Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Strange Things

Strange things are happening in France and in my blog. The revision to the Constitution passed by one vote, and the Socialists are blaming poor Jack Lang, the only Socialist to vote in favor of a text he had a hand in drafting. If he were to be excluded from the party now, as some are threatening, the PS will have reached a nadir in its decline. It didn't exclude him when he accepted the post, presumably because he was too popular and powerful a figure to be summarily purged. He stated clearly that, while the proposed revision was, from his point of view, imperfect, it nevertheless included many measures that Socialists had long wanted, such as removal of the president of the Republic from ex officio membership of the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature. He said, rightly, that it would be intellectually inconsistent and dishonest to vote against the measure proposed by the commission on which he sat. It would be a pure act of vengeance to expel him from the party now, however great the disappointment over the loss to Sarkozy. But it was the PS that politicized the revision by insisting on party discipline in a vote that should have been left to the consciences of individual members. The whipped vote made the contest a test of strength with the president rather than a weighing of the good and the bad in the constitutional reform. This was wrong on principle, and it was also tactically stupid to engage in such a test of strength without having accurately counted the votes. So the PS has already two strikes against it; if it expels Lang, it will strike out. For intelligent comment on the content of the reforms, see here.

As for the strange things happening in my blog, I have been hit by a Chinese "comment spammer" who has been depositing hundreds of ads in the comments section. I have therefore turned on "word art" protection against robotic spamming. I hope it works. I've deleted some of this garbage, but I'm on vacation and don't have time to do this systematically, so my apologies if you stumble across any of this word salad.


kirkmc said...

The socialists, IMHO, have highlighted what has always irked me about the French approach to the constitution. Not only are they happy changing it whenever they feel like it, not only can it be ammended by a simple vote of members of parliament, but, as you say, the socialists expected a party-line vote on something that is more important. Do the French not think that a constitution has some longer-term importance than that?


Anonymous said...

I don't think the PS will expel Lang, nobody has the authority to do that, and specially not Hollande who is on his way out after leading his party into a remarkable string of defeats , presidential, legislative, european referendum, and yesterday's fiasco.

I am particularly disappointed with the negative vote of Manuel Valls. That was an opportunity for him to show he was really different and could think for himself. He failed it. Probably because he still believes in his chances for the party leadership and wanted to stay " mainstream". Very unfortunate.

MYOS said...

In my opinion, the reform would have been one had the senate reform been on the table.
It wasn't.
So the vote changed meaning- it became strictly pro/against NS, not on the reform itself. From there it seemed logical the opposition would oppose it. :)
Once again, had the Senate reform been on the table, I really believe things would have been different and the Left would probably have been sharply divided.

Additionally, in my opinion, a make-believe reform is detrimental to the long-term goal of modernizing the French 5th republic, especially since most amendments seem slightly bogus (do you really believe it'll be possible to find 4.5 million people ready to petition a legal point?)

Hervé Mariton (UMP who voted yes) summarized it all well:
"it's a mediocre reform, it's an unnecessary reform, but I don't want to divide the president's majority".

The only thing that sticks is that President Sarkozy will be able to speak in front of the united Congress. There will be a debate but no vote. Not reason enough to support it from the opposition's point of view and not a reason to vote against from the majority's point of view.

However, considering the threats that were issued (some reps actually went on the record to state them) it will be interesting to see what happens to the 5 UMP congressmen who refused to vote like their group. Some were told their district would be "resized" or "eliminated", others were told they would have a president-backed adversary come next election. We'll have to see what really happens to them.

Anonymous said...

seing what happened to the last "president-appointed" candidate in Neuilly recently, looks like the 5 UMP rebels have nothing to fear... one could guess this is the same issue as with the European reforms: if they wanted real debate and legitimacy, a referendum had to be called. They do not, so they organise a vote like this one. not impressive. If they had voted against it, I guess Sarkozy would have required them to vote again, until they give the right answer...

Anonymous said...

I believe your comments are unfair. Yes, it's silly to expect Lang to vote no when he was on the committee. But the Socialists were angry at him for being on the Committee in the first place, which he accepted to do when Sarkozy was obsessed with his "ouverture."

So it's not like now suddenly the PS believes Lang ought to go back against what he did in the past year. In fact, they warned him from Day 1 that he could not expect to be a Socialist leader and be drafting Sarkozy's constitutional reform.

Anonymous said...

Ron : that tells you a lot about the level of Socialist "thinking" :

- yes, I want more power and responsability for the opposition, but... I will not participate officially in a bi-partisan commission.

- yes, I want more power and rights for the Parlement, but...I will vote no to a reform I have always advocated..


Anonymous said...

Dear, Arthur

Congratulations for your weblog ! It's very interesting !

As far as the French constitution is concerned, it must be underlined that socialists MP's always wanted to improve it !

Socialists did not want to vote against Sarkozy ! However, you must know that the recent modifications of Constitution are very inadequate !

Currently, the French Senate is not reformed and MP's can exerce other mandates !

So, French socialists did not vote against Sarkozy but for all these main reasons I have mentionned !

See you soon

Gilles JOHNSON, french student !