Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mirror, mirror on the wall ...

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most competent of them all? Bertrand Delanoë? So say respondents to this poll. Whereas Ségo, who doesn't figure among the top 3 Socialists in the competence sweeps, takes top honors in the sympathique and "good listener" categories.

One wonders who pays for polls of this sort or what they think they've learned from them. I suppose it's just something to blacken newsprint with. It would be more useful to pay a good political reporter. What exactly does this reputation for competence rest on? Delanoë has the advantage of occupying a more visible executive position than his rivals. He has avoided scandal and been a competent financial manager. He has managed to mute factional squabbling in his city. And he has taken some very visible measures, such as Paris Plage and the Velib initiatives. He has, if not charisma, a rather personable charm.

Of course all this adds up to a rather thin dossier for a candidate for party leader or, eventually, the presidency. One doesn't know much about his thinking on matters of foreign policy, domestic economic policy, energy policy, defense, etc. His low-key campaign for the party leadership has been an exercise in positioning rather than philosophizing, except for one much-reported statement of compatibility between socialism and liberalism, which was in fact merely a distillation of all his other positioning moves rather than an extended meditation on the relation between the two terms.

If he becomes party leader, his affable, sometimes pointedly ironic style may prove more attractive than the rather ringard franc-tireur acidulousness of Hollande (his "coup d'éclat permanent" dart at Sarko could be turned back on himself: his tenure has been a coup de blabla permanent, a steady drizzle of similarly harmless darts, which bring a momentary smile to the lips but leave no mark on the mind). As for Delanoë, I'm not at all sure what he would add up to as a presidential candidate or how he would fare in a confrontation with Sarkozy.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I should be very surprised if Delanoe became party leader. His charisma, you see, does not extend much past the peripherique inside the party. My suspicion is that the alliance formed by Royal, Collomb and others stands a much better chance where it matters, namely party member votes or, more to the point, federation votes. As much as I agreed with your prognostication on DSK - and I've known him and liked him personally for 30 years -, I have to disagree with what you seem to suggest here.

Incidentally, there is actually much more to Royal than mere looks. But that is a different subject. Let me just say that she is capable of having a conversation with the French whereas most others are not.