Thursday, May 24, 2007

Light at the end of the Hollande Tunnel

François Hollande has announced that he will not be a candidate to succeed himself as secretary general of the Socialist Party. His was a tenure of bad omens, inaugurated by Jospin's failed candidacy and sudden withdrawal from politics in 2002, leaving a vacuum that Hollande, the least controversial of the heirs apparent, more or less ably filled (Hollande actually assumed his post in 1997, but until Jospin was eliminated, it was Jospin who was really the party leader). The 2005 referendum on the European Constitution saddled him with the unenviable task of leading a deeply divided party into a battle it did not choose and could not win, no matter what the outcome. Then came the presidential election and the rapid eclipse of whatever presidential hopes he may have harbored, as his companion and the mother of his children stepped forward, imposed herself on the party with the enthusiastic support of much of the rank and file and many new recruits, and proceeded to run a campaign in large measure independent of the party nominally headed by Hollande. When Arnaud Montebourg was asked during the campaign what the candidate's greatest liability was, he promptly replied, François Hollande.

And another of the candidate's closest advisors, Julien Dray, has been cited as the source of a particularly nasty rumor about the Royal couple. It isn't my intention to use this blog as a gossip column, but gossip sometimes acquires a political dimension. Two Le Monde journalists, Ariane Chemin and Raphaëlle Bacqué, have published a book, Femme Fatale, in which they attribute to Dray the story that Royal became a candidate only after learning that Hollande was having an affair with another woman. Allegedly she told him that if he tried to mobilize a Jospin candidacy to block her bid for the nomination, he would never see his children again. True or not, the circulation of such stories in Socialist circles during the campaign is a sign that the party's public disarray was but a pale reflection of its internal chaos. Hence Hollande's succession, coming at a time of defeat and ideological turmoil, will be further compounded by the bitter personal animosities lingering from these long years in the desert.

Hollande is undoubtedly a man of intelligence and wit, but he could not subdue the party éléphants, nor was he able to inspire an ideological renewal sufficient to counter Sarkozy's transformation of the image of the right.

2 comments:

gregory brown said...

Well, yesterday you said it wasn't a seminar and today you're really proving it. The words "True or not" as an appositive to begin a sentence would be funny on Colbert; here its regrettable. And if you read the exceprts from book published in Le Monde and Nouvel Obs, the authors said that this supposed threat was only known to a very few "initiates," not its "circulation ...in Socialist circles."

Also, Hollande began his tenure as Secretary with a very good omen, just after the victory in the 1997 legislative elections.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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