Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Molten State of French Politics

There is a fluidity about today's political scene that is unlike any other political era in recent memory. This is exemplified by an article in today's Le Monde. The question is what the two parties formerly known as "mainstream" or "parties of government" will do if, as seems likely, their candidates do not make it to the second round of the presidential election. The legislatives loom large in their thinking. This is where they must defend their turf. But they also need to regroup and rebuild, and there careers are open to talent ... and ruthlessness and infidelity. Thus we learn that François Baroin, who had made a pact with Sarkozy to become his PM only to be left hanging when Sarkozy lost, who then flipped to Fillon, only to be left hanging when Fillon had the rug pulled out from under him, now sees himself as a potential prime minister under Macron, a position he will secure by leading the right in the legislatives, winning a majority, and thus confronting Macron as a rival who cannot be brushed aside.

Meanwhile, Laurent Wauquiez, another young man who has never been able to conceal the boundlessness of his ambition, plans to follow in Sarkozy's footsteps by seizing control of the party apparatus in preparation for a 2022 presidential run.

On the left, things are more dire, and Cambadélis has been reduced to measures that look rather desperate, like demanding loyalty oaths of his minions. But loyalty to what? Hamonism has not caught fire either within the ranks of the party or in the electorate at large. The candidate himself, while personally appealing, has not imposed his authority but rather become the figurehead of a cult, which yearns for change without being capable of proposing anything resembling a strategy to achieve it.

The Sandersistas and Occupiers and Indignados and Nuit Deboutistes and Hamonistes of the world, for all the youthful energy they have brought into politics, have not yet found the key to organizing and disciplining it, even in Spain, where they have come closest to institutionalizing the insurgent spirit. Unless I miss my guess, Hamon is not the man to make this happen in France. I don't really see anyone in France who is. Between the apparatchik Cambadélis, the renegade Mélenchon, the floundering Hamon, and the quisling Valls, the left has nowhere to turn. But as always there remains the faith that something will turn up.