As regular readers know, the PS erupted last week in a mini-rebellion against the official economic policy of Troika-approved austerity. Yesterday, Jean-Marc Ayrault tried to cool tempers, especially insofar as the attacks were directed personally at Angela Merkel. Now we have a full-blown counterattack by two ministers, Michel Sapin (labor) and Manuel Valls (interior), who denounce the attacks on Merkel and austerity as "demagogic," "irresponsible," and "insulting."
Should we now expect other ministers--Moscovici and Fabius foremost among them--to take sides in this rather embarrassing fratricidal bloodletting? Or will the president attempt to put the lid on intraparty dissent? The blowup only contributes to the widespread perception of Hollande as a weak president. Of course, he may, as I suggested the other day, be using the open dissension as a means of freeing up a bit more room for maneuver in his discussions with German and EU officials. If so, it's a risky game: Machiavellian in its way, but the author of The Prince would be the first to remind him that every leader needs to be feared, and at the moment nobody in the PS seems very much afraid of Hollande's wrath.