Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Juppé-Fillon Axis?

Alain Juppé has stepped into the Fillon-Copé dogfight. He will lead an "independent commission" charged with sorting out the mess created by the 50-50 vote split and allegations of errors and irregularities in any number of bureaux de vote. Juppé, one of the founders of the UMP, is unhappy with la droitisation of the party, first under Sarkozy and his advisor Patrick Buisson and now under Copé. Although Fillon, despite having "renounced" the presidency of the UMP, leapt eagerly on Juppé's announcement, Copé was understandably reluctant. But Juppé then issued an ultimatum, and Copé, whose position seemed increasingly untenable, finally gave in, although he will presumably fight tooth and nail to have any recount supervised by the Cocoe, where his supporters are numerous. But Juppé is too canny to accept such a one-sided deal and will undoubtedly press for a compromise, because, as he says, it is no longer the presidency but the existence of the UMP that is in question. All in all, one of the most incredible spectacles of recent French political history.

Sarkozy "témoin assisté"

After a twelve-hour interrogation by un juge d'instruction (a position he tried to abolish in 2009), Nicolas Sarkozy was declared "un témoin assisté." What does this mean?

Ce statut hybride entre témoin simple et mis en examen signifie que s'il y a bien des indices qui suggèrent qu'il aurait participé à une infraction, ils ne sont ni graves ni concordants. A moins que le juge Jean-Michel Gentil, qui arrive au terme de son enquête, ne découvre de nouvelles charges dans les prochaines semaines qui rendent nécessaires de faire évoluer son statut, M. Sarkozy ne sera donc pas renvoyé devant le tribunal en fin d'information.
Interpret that as you will, it's still not a pretty position for an ex-president, although we're getting used to it as par for the course. Savor the photo of Sarko unshaven after his long day at the courthouse, to which he traveled by private jet. Who paid for the flight? Mme Bettencourt?

UMP Finances in Disarray

It seems that there are important financial stakes in the UMP leadership fight. The party is deeply in debt, and François Baroin, who has been surprisingly outspoken in attacking the Copé "victory," is maneuvering to form a second parliamentary group, which would deprive a Copé-Jacob-led rump of one source of financing. (h/t Laurent Bouvet)

Sciences Po: Regime Change

Geneviève Fioraso, the minister for higher education, has stepped into the Sciences Po succession controversy. Following the selection of Hervé Crès to succeed the late Richard Descoings, many faculty members associated with the institution protested the choice, and the Cour des Comptes issued a devastating report on the management of finances, calling for possible prosecution. Fioraso therefore suspended the nomination of Crès and has called for the appointment of a person "beyond reproach" as interim director. This is the culmination of a long series of critiques of the manner in which Sciences Po has been run. It appears that the time for a change of regime has come.

La Droite Forte

An interesting analysis by Françoise Fressoz of the influence of Patrick Buisson, ex-FN, on the Droite forte current within the UMP. Copé claims to embody this ideology, but perhaps he is merely its tool. In any case, it may well split the UMP.

Chris Bickerton sees a fulfillment of Marine Le Pen's strategy to divide and conquer by provoking a split in the UMP.