Saturday, November 29, 2014

He's baaaaaack!

Nicolas Sarkozy is once again the head of the UMP. Le Monde and many other commentators would nevertheless like to see a victory here for Bruno Le Maire, who scored a respectable 29+ % on a turnout of 57% and kept Sarko below the 70% threshold that would have allowed him to claim a resounding plebiscite (he was elected head of the party 10 years with a majority of 85%). But still, this was a badly wounded Sarkozy, saddled with a dozen investigations, widely perceived to have botched his comeback campaign in a number of respects, yet he scored nearly 70% among the party faithful, despite polls showing that the electorate at large preferred Juppé as a 2017 presidential candidate. This was also a Sarkozy who is up to his eyeballs in the Bygmalion affair, where all signs are that his campaign looted the party coffers in its desperate bid not to lose the 2012 presidential election. And this was a Sarkozy who is probably going to rebrand the party with a new name and conceivably set the rules of the presidential primary to favor himself. He is, as I've often said, a gifted politician, so it's not surprising to find that he still has strong support, but he is also a politician who has proven that his gifts were not sufficient to ensure a successful presidency, so it's not easy to explain why his support remains as strong as it is. Since the UMP powers-that-be have decided not to release details about the voting, we will probably never have a full demographic-political analysis of the vote. But at least we are sure that the always-entertaining Sarkozy will make the next couple of years interesting. Unless the courts sideline him, of course.

How Le Maire plays his cards from here will also be interesting to watch. At first he said he would not participate in the leadership of a Sarko-headed UMP. Then he seemed to backtrack a bit. I wouldn't be surprised to see him emerge as a strong backer of Juppé's candidacy, perhaps with a prominent role in the campaign. The Le Maire-Wauquiez battle will be interesting to watch. Wauquiez surely resents the way Le Maire's bid for the UMP leadership pushed his rival forward as the next-generation candidate of the Right. He now needs Sarkozy's support to reposition himself, and Sarkozy could use Wauquiez's support in rebuilding the party.

I'm supposed to be writing an article on all this, so I'd better save something for later.

6 comments:

bernard said...

amid all the buzz about how this is a superb election, a few facts (all numbers rounded for easier readability, wikipedia for 2012, les echos for yesterday):

325 000 members of UMP in 2012, 268 000 in yesterday's vote, a loss of 57 000 members in the last 2 years or -18%. UMP is a party clearly doing well...

175 000 bothered to vote yesterday against 156 000 in 2012, a gain of 19 000 or 12%. The voters yesterday are clearly the UMP's hard core. One expects that yesterday's voters were almost all already members of UMP in 2012 and had voted then.

Copé got 87 000 votes in 2012 (and Fillon as well), Sarkosy got 100 000 yesterday, up 13 000 or 15%.

If that's the basis of a triumphal return, then I'm ready to buy that piece of land in Arkansas.

I still believe on the basis of these results that Sarkosy will get nowhere, which is good as I also believe that he should get nowhere: He will only win the primary against Juppe if he manages to rig the process. But in such a case, payback will be at the presidential election.

bernard said...

Sarkozy of course, sorry...

Anonymous said...

Yes, the official expectation was 70%, meaning they predicted way more. 64% is not "nearly 70%". It's not that good at all for a man supposed to be seen as his party's savior, whose opponents were systematically sidelined. Mariton's showing also resets things: 6% is the score Christian/social-conservatives have in the French right, despite the manif pour tous vociferations.
Le Maire's score came out of nowhere, and it does indicate a very strong backing for classical, conservative, "gaullist" policies without the bells and whistles and scandals that come with Sarkozy.
Finally why did 2/3 UMP party members vote for Sarkozy? Because some ladies lurrrv him (no kidding, you'd think you're at a One Direction concert when you hear the cooing and adoration), because he's got a proven track record at winning, because corruption, until now at least, has rarely hurt a French politician (think Serge Dassault: accused of conspiracy to commit murder, with audio recordings proving the accusation's not just malicious gossip, he remains a seating senator...), because he's charismatic, because some party members liked Copé and felt betrayed, etc. It makes sense within the party. but it's very, very far from the triumph that was expected.

M said...

Humour wise, I think Nicolas S. doesn't compete in the same class as Alain Juppé. Nicolas's humour remains at the same level as his friend Bigard. All the recent quotes from the book by Schuck & Gershel "ça reste entre-nous hein ?" illustrate that.
Now after the "comité des vieux cons" after the "comité naphtaline" Juppé just came up with the "comité des chapeaux à plumes"... ça promet !
If I could be sorry for Dominique de Villepin, but how can you ?, I would be, instead I am ashamed for the guy...

Anonymous said...

Nicolas S has more humor than you thought - he was livid at Bruno Le Maire's score (it even delayed his planned victory speech because he'd planned for a greater triumph). So he promised "he'll finish in his briefs!" Classy and so mature.
Interestingly, LE FIGARO reports this. I'd worry a bit if I were Nicolas, since le Figaro used to be a strong backer...
http://www.lefigaro.fr/politique/le-scan/citations/2014/12/03/25002-20141203ARTFIG00099-sarkozy-bruno-le-maire-finira-en-slip-kangourou.php

FrédéricLN said...

@M -> "Now after the "comité des vieux cons" after the "comité naphtaline" Juppé just came up with the "comité des chapeaux à plumes"... ça promet ! "

That is a sign of Juppé's proximity with Bayrou, who uses quite often the quite unusual term "chapeaux à plumes" in the same meaning.

http://lci.tf1.fr/politique/bayrou-le-pouvoir-est-un-alcool-insensiblement-pernicieux-7013820.html

http://www.20minutes.fr/politique/839218-20111208-bayrou-assure-rouler-secret-personne-avoir-plan-b