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?

Hazareesingh on Sarkozy

The historian Sudhir Hazareesingh reviews a handful of books about Sarkozy.

Student Strikes Heating Up

The opposition to the Pécressse Law seems to be heating up, despite the UNEF's call to recognize "advances" in the negotiation. Among other incidents, Oliver Ihl, the director of the Institut d'Études Politiques of Grenoble [corrected: I had originally written Lyon], was injured slightly in a confrontation with "anarchist" students. It's a little startling when a colleague's name figures in the dispatches from the front lines of social confrontation. When I last saw Prof. Ihl, it was in a seminar room at Harvard.


Sarko's gift to lexicographers: la voyoucratie, which is what he sees at work in Villiers-le-Bel.

«Je réfute toute forme d'angélisme qui vise à trouver en chaque délinquant une victime de la société, en chaque émeute un problème social» he also said.

Yet if the president is right, and Villiers-le-Bel really is ruled by une voyoucratie, operating with impunity just a few kilometers from the center of Paris, arming itself with shotguns loaded with buckshot, and going to ground only when faced with the superior firepower of a battalion of CRS and a dozen helicopters, then one might conclude that this in itself is un problème social. I'm not sure what else to call it.

The saddest post-riot scene was the conversation on France2 news last night between M. Pétillon, the owner of an auto dealership that was burned to the ground, and a young man from a neighboring town who had come to Villiers to assess the damage. "Don't they realize that the people who work here live in the zone?" M. Pétillon asked. "Where will they work now?" The young man said he was just as "disgusted" by the waste as the businessman who had invested 2 million euros 15 years ago to develop what had been a vacant lot and who employed 30 people, all devastated by the news that he will not reopen the business.