Monday, July 2, 2007

More Socialists Join Sarko

It was announced today that Socialist Jack Lang has accepted an invitation from Pres. Sarkozy to join a group that will reflect on institutional reform. Another Socialist, Hubert Védrine, the former foreign minister, has accepted a call to reflect on France and globalization after rejecting an earlier invitation to join the government (reportedly as foreign minister, before the appointment of Kouchner to that post).

As if on cue, Lang also gave Le Monde an interview, defending Sarkozy against the charge of "hyperpresidentialism." Of course, says Lang. "Et alors?"

I can't criticize Lang for taking this view, since it is the view I have expressed consistently in this blog. If Sarkozy is "hyperpresidential," it is chiefly by contrast with the torpor of Chirac. Hyperpresidentialism is built into the structure of the Fifth Republic. It takes an active president to make things work. Lang puts it this way: "We're rediscovering a reality in France. All power is concentrated in the president. Wouldn't it be logical, therefore, to establish a true presidential regime? An executive power checked by a real parliament, endowed with real powers." A refreshingly candid statement from a left that has had a hard time finding its voice.

Will Lang now be expelled from the party? True, he hasn't accepted a ministry, but his defense of the Sarkozyan method is more forthright than that of any of the Socialist ministers.


Quico said...

How hard precisely is it to get thrown out of the PS? What is the procedure like? Would Lang have to undergo 20 minutes of self-criticism before being shipped out for re-education through work?

On vastly less silly territory, are you planning to comment on this? Probably I am naive, but I'd always considered this story little more than a mean-spirited slur. Turns out it was true! Shocking...

Anonymous said...

The semi-presidential constitution of the French Fifth Republic certainly structures incentives for “hyperpresidentialism,” which more accurately describes a situation in which executives make extended use of constitutional emergency and decree powers to legislate in hard times. However critical one may be of various aspects of Sarkozy’s governing style, he is still far from this point. De Gaulle, for five months in ’61, was much closer. Moreover, comparative evidence from other countries with this constitution suggests that "hyperpresidentialism" emerges when presidents are blocked by an antagonistic or divided legislature, and want to override it no matter the costs to democracy.

What is more interesting, to me, in light of Lang’s interview, is how far the Socialists have come on the issue of the directly elected and powerful president since Mitterrand’s Le Coup d’État permanent.