Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The End of Municipal Socialism

The Socialist Party was excluded from the presidency for 17 years, from 1995 to 2012, but during that time it built up an impressive local power base, controlling numerous cities and regions (especially after 2008). In two years, all that patient construction has now been demolished:
A Argenteuil (Val-d'Oise), le maire sortant, Philippe Doucet, assure avoir dû subir la « double peine » au second tour : « Surmobilisation de la droite et surabstention des électeurs du Front de gauche ». En théorie, les reports de voix du Front de gauche du premier tour auraient pu l'avantager, mais le député a été battu de 187 voix contre l'UMP.
« C'est rageant parce que nous avons bien travaillé à Argenteuil, mais le sujet n'était plus là, c'était la revanche de la présidentielle », celle d'une ville qui avait voté à 64,64 % pour François Hollande. En deux ans, selon lui, « toute la base socialiste patiemment construite et conquise a été balayée. Même les survivants, comme Martine Aubry à Lille, sont amoindris. Nous sommes durablement atteints dans ce qui fait notre socle. »
To be sure, "municipal socialism" was not an unmixed blessing. It taught Socialists to think small. It narrowed their strategic vision at the national level and provided niches in which politicians could make satisfactory careers without having to adjust their world views to the broader stage. François Hollande was the perfect leader for a party of local barons, since he never insisted on imposing a unified national strategy. He let a hundred, two hundred, five hundred flowers bloom. But the blight has set in, and the party must now reinvent itself. Its new figurehead, Manuel Valls, has the ambition, but does he have ideas à la hauteur?

A Defense of the Valls Nomination from Contreligne

President Hollande's nomination of Manuel Valls to be the next prime minister has provoked loud howls in many quarters of the Left. Here is a contrarian view, which sees Valls as a combination of Clemenceau and Rocard.

Could Hollande Lose His Majority?

According to this article in Le Monde, yes. Ministers leaving the government, such as Cécile Duflot, can reclaim their seats from their suppléants. And Duflot, who is leaving because she vehemently disagrees with Valls on the Roma issue, need not vote for the government. The Front de Gauche has already said, in the person of Mélenchon, that it will not support Valls in a vote of confidence. And the absolute majority hangs on only 2 votes.