Thursday, November 29, 2007

What If?

OK, it's now official. Ségolène Royal proposed to François Bayrou between the first and second rounds of the presidential election that he become her prime minister. She believes that if he had accepted, she would have won. He confirms that she made the offer but says he refused because he was convinced she wouldn't win and because "such things aren't done."

It will remain, I suppose, one of those questions that will exercise the Political Hot Stove League for a few months. It's certainly true that quite a few people were looking for a way to "stop Sarko," but it's also true that the swelling of Bayrou's vote in the final weeks of the campaign was due in large part to disaffected center-left and center-right voters convinced either that Royal could not win or that Sarkozy should not win. Would a Ségo-Bayrou tandem have taken these votes? I put it to readers. What do you think?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you look at the numbers, there's a pretty convincing argument in favor of Bayrou tipping the election to Royal. Only 2.2 million votes separated Sarkozy from Royal in the 2nd round. Which in reality means Royal needed to convince a bit more than 1.1 million people to change their votes in order to have won the election.

Bayrou won 6.8 million votes (18%) in the first round. Most of them (about two thirds) followed the bandwagon effect that gathered steam in January and February and were not deeply loyal voters. But at least a third of them (5-7% of the total electorate according to early polling) were Bayrou supporters. That's about 2 million loyal votes.

Now it's true that Bayrou effectively lost his party (in all but name) to Herve Morin as a result of his refusal to explicitly endorse Sarkozy. But that was because there was an increasing certainty that come May 7, Sarkozy would be the one handing out the rewards and punishing the disloyal.

Had Bayrou taken a more forceful position in the two weeks before the second round voting, it would have certainly given Royal the boost she needed to convince people she at least had a chance of winning. More importantly, had he been in a position under a Royal presidency to give his parliament deputies their coveted "maroquins", I think it's safe to say they would not have jumped ship.

So while it's true that, as Royal herself put it during the campaign, in the end the center always falls to the right, I think that a "Bayrou at Matignon" scenario would very likely have meant a Royal presidency.

Anonymous said...

i'm not sure...moving to the center could prevent a part of the 8% of "gauchistes" to vote for her
it's a big challenge to put together people so different..you have to choose very cleverly your themes and mottos.