Friday, March 7, 2008

The Extremes

Les extrêmes se touchent is a Pascalian thought, which I wrench out of context to introduce a very interesting article by Éric Dupin on the state of play in the municipal elections. Of particular note is the decline of the Front National, which has been unable to mount a ticket in Dreux, the city in which it made its first electoral breakthrough in 1983 (for details, see the book by François Gaspard, A Small City in France). Indeed, it has a presence in only 85 French cities.

Meanwhile, on the extreme left, Lutte Ouvrière, the party of the venerable Arlette Laguiller, which has been steadily losing ground to Olivier Besancenot's Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, has negotiated what Dupin calls "a strategic hairpin turn," choosing a strategy of alliance with other parties of the left rather than attempt to maintain independent lists everywhere. Of course it would be a more significant sign if LCR, the stronger party on the extreme left, did the same. Such a move might presage a real "renovation" of the broad left. But that doesn't seem to be happening.

Dupin also considers what might be called, with tongue only slightly in cheek, the "extreme center," François Bayrou's MoDem, which seems to have no national strategy and to be availing itself instead of tactical opportunities where and as they arise. Dupin covers the various options well.

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