Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Valls Speaks

Le Figaro gives Manuel Valls an opportunity to set forth his views on the renovation of the Socialist Party. He makes three points:

1. It's time to admit that we live in a market economy.
2. The PS must recognize the value of work:
a. The PS must evaluate the consequences of the 35-hour week.
b. The PS must be clear about its position on retirement reform.
c. The party has lost part of the working-class vote, which finds Sarko's line attractive.
3. Authority is in crisis. "Republican authority" is a left-wing value, essential to "preserve the social bond."

The vagueness of this program is rivaled only by its blandness, but of course Valls is speaking in a strange code here rather than presenting an analysis. He's staking out a position that might be described as left-Sarkozysm. The emptiness of acknowledging "the market economy" passes for boldness in some Socialist circles, since it appears to embrace a reality that "anti-liberals" reject. But how does Valls see the market? What does accepting it entail? We're not told. The "value of work" is of course filched straight from Sarkozy. The three subpoints included under this head sum up what is fast becoming conventional wisdom among Socialists: we went wrong with the shortened work week, we should have taken the lead on retirement reform, and we forgot how to talk to workers. The crisis of authority is again nicked from Sarkozy. Yet Valls sees a new Socialist leader emerging from the generation of 40-somethings to which he belongs. No doubt he sees such a leader emerging even when he isn't shaving in the morning. But he'll have to do better than this, and soon.

A poll this morning shows Royal's leadership of the left faltering; DSK is up somewhat, but this is mainly a rebound effect, I think. Delanoë has fallen off the pace into the number four spot, allowing himself to be passed by Besancenot. None of the PS forty-year-olds is mentioned. Valls needs to generate name recognition quickly if he wants to seize the moment. He'll need a firmer commitment than he showed in this interview.


This Figaro article indicates that the lack of media attention to the question of immigration law enforcement about which I spoke yesterday is no accident. Yesterday, before or after the Élysée received the father and grandfather of "little Enis," the victim of a recidivist pedophile in Roubaix, the president met with his ministers of immigration, justice, and the interior to discuss plans for the control of illegal immigration:

La réunion, sur laquelle l'Élysée n'a pas souhaité s'exprimer, a permis de faire le point sur les dossiers en cours et au premier chef la situation d'Ivan, toujours hospitalisé mais qui est sorti du coma, hier. Si sa vie n'est plus en danger, le suspense demeure sur les éventuelles séquelles de sa chute.

This must be the first subject on which "the Élysée has not wanted to express itself" since Sarkozy took office. (Ivan, incidentally, is the child injured in the fall in Amiens that I discussed in yesterday's post.) The subject of immigration enforcement is a "sensitive" one, the article indicates. One would have thought that what happened in Roubaix might also be treated as "sensitive," since Rachida Dati has already expressed her fear that the extreme media attention to the child victim and his family might have adverse consequences on the boy's psychology. This concern didn't prevent the exploitation of the event by the president. Nor is the media circus likely to diminish with the revelation that Viagra was indeed prescribed to M. Evrard by a prison doctor.