Monday, March 17, 2008

Brownian Motion

So I've read the press and the comments on the blog, consulted the map, and perused the tables. The Left picked up 38 large cities and wants to read this as a national mandate; the Right lost Toulouse and Périgueux and Amiens and Metz and Caen yet wants to read this as a national mandate to accelerate its reforms, and the Wall Street Journal agrees.

As an erstwhile physicist, I see random fluctuations. It's like the quantum theory of magnetism. In various places the temperature has risen a little, and spins once aligned to the right have come unstuck. In other places a minor fluctuation in the ambient field has flipped the spin alignment to the left. Averaging over the entire hexagonal domain there's been a slight leftward drift.

Did government personalities fare particularly badly? Darcos, Lagarde, Yade and a few others lost; Dati, Estrosi, and Wauquiez won.

The other day someone mentioned the "pothole" effect in local elections: mayors who fill potholes and ensure that the garbage is collected get re-elected, other things equal. Combine this with a few velleities about the way things are going nationally, and you get the sort of mixed picture that emerges from this election. When the noise dies down, not much will have changed. Sarko is a bit chastened--but the approval polls had chastened him already. His party troops are restless, and he has stroked them appropriately in the hope of restoring calm. The Socialists are bucked up a bit, and they surely needed some bucking up. The Communists and the Frontists continue to dwindle together. And the Bourse collapses, which will ensure that this election will be forgotten even more quickly than most.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Art,
I agree that yesterday’s results might be forgotten quickly. Yet, I believe they are indeed significant in that they partially undo the outcome of the last electoral period (Spring 2007) in three ways:
-first, the low turnout. The FN may be defunct but its voters are not and French democracy is not as vital as many thought it was last June. Silence among French citizens is rarely a good sign; French democracy is still fragile, watch out for the resurgence of extreme ideas;
- second, the consolidation of “vertical” or “territorial” cohabitation, with the left very strong in the regions, départements and communes of more than 30 000 habs. It means that the future laws will have a hard time getting applied on the ground (think for example about how extensive communes’ powers are in terms of environmental regulation); The Sarkosyan power is not absolute anymore, it has become spatially relative;
-third, the defeat of diversité. Witness the fate of Rama Yade, Seybah Dagoma (http://www.seybahdagoma.net/ ) Hussein Mokhtari (http://www.ensemblepourgarges.com/) or Razzy Hammadi (http://razzyhammadi.fr/ ). Except for Samia Ghali in Marseille, Najat Belkacem in Lyon and of course Rachida Dati in Paris, this is a major setback for diversity representation. The scandalous story of Bagdad Ghezal (http://desmotsetdebats.blogs.liberation.fr/discours/2007/11/au.html#comment-90586668) will haunt the PS for a long time.

Unknown said...

Éloi,
All good points. Thank you, and thanks to the other commenters on the municipal elections as well.

Unknown said...

Reading Le Monde today, I found the following piece:
http://www.lemonde.fr/municipales-cantonales/article/2008/03/17/le-stratageme-elyseen-pour-pieger-le-leader-centriste_1023745_987706.html#ens_id=982722

I don't know if you had read it already, but if you have not, please do.
Wow is all I can say.

Anonymous said...

What do you think of the LCR score and how will you analyse it? New player for a short time or "feu de paille"?

Thanks
Didier@WindyCity

Unknown said...

Didier,
I don't have a good handle on the LCR score, but my guess is that people who had previously found other outlets for a protest vote--Greens, PCF, etc.--have temporarily fastened on Besancenot as a more dynamic and visible focal point for their rejection of the status quo.

Fr. said...

Dati won in an arrondissement where anything with a right-wing stamp would have won. If you like physics, the structural configuration of her arrondissement and the heteroskedasticity of its social patterns assures right-wing victories for several more decades.