Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rocard Hospitalized


Michel Rocard has been hospitalized in India. He is reported to be in stable condition.* Today is not the time for a lengthy essay on Rocard, but maybe a reader or two would like to reflect on where the left might be today if it had followed Rocard instead of Mitterrand in 1978 or Delors instead of Jospin in 1995. Or on why these turns were not taken.

* LATER: He has been operated on for a cerebral hemorrhage and is "not out of danger," according to a doctor.
NEXT DAY: "Il a réclamé des mangues et entamé la lecture d'un bouquin de Jacques Attali: l'ancien Premier Ministre Michel Rocard semble bien se remettre de son hémorragie cérébrale de samedi." (Perhaps his judgment was affected by the stroke: if I survived a near-death experience, I might ask for a mango, but I would not pick up a book by Jacques Attali.)

1 comment:

gregory brown said...

I'll bite, a little, at least on 1995. Because thats when Rocard had the best chance of being the candidate, until the disastrous (for the PS) parliamentary elections of 93 and the even more disastrous EU parliamentary elections of 94, after which Fabius and Emmanuelli (leading the rump of the "Mitterandiste" courant) teamed up to depose him. Jospin, then a marginal figure having left the government in 92, was in support of Rocard until the last minute.

By late 94, the PS would have readily followed Delors if he had been willing to stand for election; even the followers of Fabius, and of Emmanuelli, who had the most support within the Bureau national, would have gone along based largely on the chance for a victory. But Delors was only interested if he could have the support of enough centrists to form an eventual government without the PCF. The then EU president asked the head of the then-head of the Giscardien contingent of the French European parliament delegation, Francois Bayrou, for his support, but Bayrou -- then a minister in Balladur's government, refused.

Unsure how to proceed -- Emanuelli was temporary head of the party but under criminal investigation; Fabius lacked the support -- the Conseil decided to hold an internal primary, won overwhelmingly by Jospin largely on the support of the rank and file militants against the autocratic heads of the big fedes.

So its not quite right to see 95 as a missed opportunity to open to the center; in some ways, it was the moment at which the party created the conditions for Royal's triumph of 06 through a combination of elephanite infighting and a rare gesture towards democratization by holding a primary.

After the election, Fabius expected to be able to retake the party, but Jospin's surprisingly strong showing and his surprisingly lasting support of the militants (as well as the surprisingly strong organizational abilities of his "bande" to synthesize Rocardiens and Mitterandistes) made possible his triumph at the ensuing party conference and the even more surprising victory of 97.

In some ways its an object lesson of whats going on now. Less an ideological left vs center fight and more a top-down struggle between those well integrated into the party apparatus (of whatever courant) and those who are new or feel alienated from the apparatus (and whose support is less for Royal than against control from above.)

Interesting article reflecting this dynamic on Rue89.com about the mairie du XIIIe.