Thursday, May 21, 2015

Meanwhile, chez les Socialistes ....

The previous post was about rightwing Hotspur Laurent Wauquiez. Meanwhile, on the left, the Socialists, as is their wont, have achieved unity in vagueness, muffling their message in a pile of mush. Leader Cambadélis likes it that way. Indeed, he has chosen a via negativa to the definition of the Socialist God (the mauvaises langues will find it irresistible to quip that this is the God that failed circa 1983, but pay them no mind):
On arrive ainsi à une définition en négatif de ce qu’est la social-démocratie, version Solférino : « Ni social-libéralisme ni néocommunisme ». Entre les deux, le champ des possibles est ouvert. « J’ai tout millimétré, bouché les éventuels angles d’attaque », savoure le premier secrétaire.
 One might have expected Cambadélis, the ex-trot, to be a different kind of leader from Hollande, who also preferred the mushy via negativa to any forthright effort to formulate a positive program, but the factional divisions, always in evidence when the Socialists are in power, are today deeper than ever and would split the party wide open if openly acknowledged. So Cambadélis has chosen to bury them for the next two years, hoping somehow to muddle through to re-election on the strength of being neither this nor that. The one flaw in this strategy is that the Hollande-Valls team has chosen to be frankly "social liberal," so Cambadélis's via negativa is daily contradicted by the facts. It would be more accurate to define the Socialists today as "neither FN nor soft-FN"--that is, neither Rassemblement Bleu Marine nor her baby blue emulators.

Killer Instinct: Wauquiez

They say that a presidential candidate needs fire in the belly, a killer instinct, a willingness to go for the jugular. If so, Laurent Wauquiez appears to be ready to make a run for it:
L’alerte devient autrement sérieuse en janvier 2011, lorsque « Jean-Noël » guigne un autre canton, à 15 kilomètres de là. Wauquiez et le jeune Barrot se retrouvent dans l’ascenseur de l’hôtel du département. La phrase exacte n’a pas été consignée, mais le second entend clairement le premier lui parler de « balle dans la tête ».

Une balle, comme cette « balle perdue » que Wauquiez promet, par texto, en 2012, à la députée européenne Françoise Grossetête, qui soutient Jean-François Copé dans sa guerre au couteau contre François Fillon pour prendre la tête de l’UMP. Une spécialité, chez Laurent Wauquiez, ces salves de textos, souvent nocturnes, qu’il envoie frénétiquement : « Tu m’as trahi… », « Tu me trouveras sur ta route »… « Je te briserai »… Des menaces qui se ressemblent toutes, et que leurs destinataires racontent à voix basse. Jacques Barrot s’en inquiète désormais tout haut.
Le Monde's lengthy profile of Wauquiez (by Ariane Chemin and Alexandre Lemarié, well worth reading) follows the same pattern as every other profile I've read of him: it starts out by building up his brainy credentials (top student in the history agrégation, ENA, DEA in public law), hints a few paragraphs in that he's swallowed the Buisson-Sarkozy line--no enemies to my (extreme) right--hook, line, and sinker ("« Quand j’entends Wauquiez, j’ai l’impression d’avoir Philippot du FN en stéréo », ironise le sénateur centriste de Paris Yves Pozzo di Borgo."), and then delivers the coup de grâce with the stories of threats, thuggishness, etc.

Of course he has plenty of competition for the UMP--er, excuse me, Republican (this will take some getting used to)--investiture. If Sarko falters, there is Juppé, and then there is Le Maire, NKM, etc. But Wauquiez will be in the mix and in line for a top ministry if the Republicans carry the day. Hence he bears watching, especially as becomes more and more the camel's nose of the FN under the edge of the Republican tent.