Arun Kapil does a thorough job of examining the departmental elections. As always, I learn a lot from what he has to say. On one point I disagree: I think he underestimates the degree to which this election consolidated Sarkozy's hold on the UMP. He's right that the victory wasn't really Sarkozy's doing: it was in the current configuration of forces all along. But Sarko reaps the benefit. Frankly, I think only the courts can stop him. Although I, like Arun, would like to see a Juppé candidacy, we have seen how Juppé has been received by the UMP base on several occasions. The just-announced rules for the UMP primary might give him an outside shot, but he's not a natural campaigner.
In the past Arun has agreed with me about Sarkozy's political skills. In this post he has lost sight of those skills because he is so dismayed by his "odious" Buisson-influenced campaign tactics. Indeed. But I think Sarko knows where the votes are. For Juppé to win the primary, hundreds of thousands of disaffected Socialists would have to decide that their best vote utile would be to try to tip the UMP primary toward Juppé. I don't see that happening.