Friday, June 27, 2008

Divide et Impera

Could Nicolas Sarkozy be preparing to smite the Left with le coup de Jarnac* that Mitterrand (who was born in Jarnac) used against the Right back in the 80s? Le Monde reports that in the plane back from Beirut, there was discussion among France's political elite of the possibility that Sarkozy will institute a system of single-round proportional voting for the 2010 regional elections. This would provide an opening for the parties of the extreme left, especially Olivier Besancenot and the Nouveau Parti Anti-Capitaliste, to capture seats from the PS. The Fondation Jean-Jaurès sees a real possibility that the Left will henceforth be irrevocably split between "social liberal" and "anticapitalist" factions.

*coup de Jarnac: see here. Mitterrand used proportional representation to enable the Front National to take seats away from the RPR. It was an effective but perfidious tactic that encouraged the growth of Le Pen's party. Language lawyers might argue that I should have used coup fourré or coup bas rather than coup de Jarnac, but the coincidence with Mitterrand's birthplace forced my hand.

7 comments:

MYOS said...

I read the exact same thing except that at least in 86 there were two rounds. In the proposal I read about, there'd be just one.
At least Sarkozy's brutally honest: he wants the Left to lose as many regions as possible and for those the Right can"t win, insure they'll be impossible to govern (think poitou charentes :D)
It's blatantly unfair but ever since that piece of news regarding TV I've been quite down, as if something's hopeless in a democracy where such assaults on basic freedoms are possible. And thus this piece of news is just another blow to my esteem for the "Republic". Sorry to be so negative but I really haven't recovered from the Public TV announcement.

David in Setouchi said...

It's undeniable that both Mitterrand back in the days and possibly Sarkozy in the near future institute(d) a proportional system to weaken the adversary, but on the other hand I think the current (two rounds, winner take all) system is just plain wrong and unrepresentative of the reality of the vote.

It's nonsensical that some parties like MoDem, LCR and (sadly) FN who got a substantial percentage of votes in the legislatives (for example) are totally unrepresented in the Assemblée Nationale.

MYOS said...

David, I agree with you for the Assemblee Nationale. Even the FN and LCR ought to have one or two delegates since they *are* part of the national political landscape.
However in this case, the reform wouldn't affect the National Assembly, only the Regional Council; for the Regionals, it means the Regional Councils will simply be impossible to rule with a proportional FPTP type of election! A two-round proportional might be better if one increases the number of council members but one round proportional is a recipe for institutional disaster.
But at least, people are warned and can plan.
I doubt that's what the left is doing.

porteparole said...

Thought you may find this interesting, in case you didn't already hear...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/opinion/l29service.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

gregory brown said...

Just one minor point here, and its a personal dada of mine. Mitterand's decision to change the electoral system for the 86 legislative elections was not 1) driven entirely by a desire to advance the FN at the expense of the left; it was as much to diminish the # of PCF seats, which it did accomplish 2) not an idea that came out of nowhere when the polls went south for the PS after 83. It had not been long part of at least what some on the left had advocated as a necessary democratic reform, especially after the disappointments of 1968 and 1978.

The idea that this decision helped "make the FN" is really Chiraquien spin, not borne out by the experience of 1986-1988. IN the short term, it really hurt the FN, which lost not only all but one of its seats but a share of its vote in the 1988 legislatives (compared with 1986). LePen's increase in the 1988 election can be as much "blamed" on the lack of attraction to many right-wing voters of the old warhorses of Chirac and Barre.

None of which calls into question Art's main point.

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