Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is There a Way Out?

Is there a way out of the Socialist Party's impasse? A recount won't do it: the tally will be too close, the suspicions of fraud too great, to legitimate the outcome. There is no neutral body capable of fairly assessing the rival claims. Recourse to the courts will further damage the party's reputation. And no matter who "won," the even split would delegitimate her leadership.

A revote might produce a somewhat more decisive outcome, but clearly the message of the vote is that the party cannot unite when the only real issue is defined as it is now: whether or not to put Ségolène Royal before the public as the leader and probable candidate of the party.

To my mind, therefore, there is only one way out that will not split the party irrevocably: choose someone else. Both candidates could agree on a compromise choice, perhaps with an agreement to hold another special congress in a year to reconsider and to choose not only a permanent leader but a presidential candidate. In the meantime, the compromise choice as leader would commit him or herself to a process of internal reform acceptable to both candidates.

Who could the third party be? Hamon might seem to be a logical choice, but he clearly endorsed Aubry in the final round, so he probably wouldn't be acceptable to Royal. The only prominent leader I can think of who did not publicly choose sides in the end is Moscovici. He backed Delanoë in the first round but gave no consigne de vote in the second. He has been courted by both sides. Perhaps they can agree to let him have the helm for a year.

Short of such an agreement, I think the party will collapse.

12 comments:

bernard said...

This is a very wise post. In fact, I have been checking very closely these past few days/weeks on everything Moscovici does or says and had privately the exact same thing in mind. Moscovici has been positioning himself as a recourse very carefully indeed, and why not? This after all is what he wanted to do and could not do these past few months.

The problem of course is the party statutes: there would indeed have to be a revote of members. But this might be a preferable solution to settling this feud "en correctionnelle", which is what Manuel Valls has just announced.

Incidentally, by doing so, Valls confirms my impression of him so far: he is not a politician, rather he is an accountant (and not a very good one at that), and speaks like a bean counter. Forget him as a potential for the future.

bernard said...

on a lighter note "swing vote" was a better movie than its lack of success suggested. I thought Kevin Costner's acting was excellent!

kirkmc said...

I agree that they are treading on thin ice. One they start calling in the lawyers they remove any semblance of caring about the party or its ideals; they show that they just want victory. (One Royal mouthpiece said something about not allowing this "victory to be stolen".)

What about two co-chairs of the party, Royal and Aubry? Nah, that'd probably just be a constant fight between them... I don't know what the solution is, but I think they've essentially killed the party's chances for having much influence on national politics for a few years.

The UMP must be popping champagne. :-)

Tom Holzman said...

The party clearly needs to find some neutral to lead it, at least in the short term. Someone perhaps from the younger generation. Maybe Hamon. I am not familiar enough with the rising stars. Good luck to them. Otherwise, the wilderness will envelop the PS rather quickly.

Boz said...

A neutral could work, but only if you accept that this division is simply Royal and anti-Royal. But if that fight is a proxy for a greater split in the party between those inclined towards the center and those who want to move farther left, it would let the division fester (I have no idea which it is, though I'd lean towards the former)

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Boz,
I really don't see this contest as left vs. center. To the extent that the words even remain intelligible, the Aubry coalition includes lots of both, and Ségo hits (or misses) all bases in her scattershot discourse. The attempt to raise "alliance with MoDem" as a shibboleth for distinguishing "left" from "center" was hypocritical from the beginning. The advantage of my proposal, I think, is that a delay of a year under a new leader might permit some clarification of what the party is really about. I emphasize "might": I'm not at all confident that this would actually happen. But the choice for now is pretty much Ségo or not-Ségo, I think, and clearly the militants cannot make up their minds. Who can blame them? The debacle is a testament to Hollande's failed leadership, which refused to bring any debate to a head. The interim leader would need to draw the consequences of this failure if the plan is to have any chance of success. The present disaster may serve to concentrate people's minds.

Arun said...

Absolutely right, Art. I've been thinking this myself. The PS needs a compromise collective leadership immediately, with younger folks like Mosco, Peillon, Hidalgo, etc, with the implicit understanding that Royal, Aubry, and other elephants (DSK, Fabius...) will square off later for 2012.

Boz said...

"The advantage of my proposal, I think, is that a delay of a year under a new leader might permit some clarification of what the party is really about. I emphasize "might": I'm not at all confident that this would actually happen."

I agree with you that that very well may be their best shot to emerge from the current mess - "what the party is really about" is indeed the real problem, but the clash of personalities and ambition muddles that horribly. So perhaps it's wishful thinking to assume this schism is a reflection of that, though deciding where the party is to move will be a much more wrenching decision than Sego or not Sego.

MYOS said...

I don't think there is a way out.
They're suing one another.
There are enough frauds and problems that the election can't be legitimate. Neither side will yield now.
If indeed Aubry tried to "trick" the results, it'd be unthinkable to maintain anyone from her team in charge.
If Royal screamed bloody murder for no good reason, then... those who hated her will feel vindicated, those who liked her will keep calling for a revote, and...?
Pierre Moscovici, unfortunately, has ZERO traction.

MYOS said...

Found on LePost, BTW, something funny:
"Plus fort, le pile ou face, arbitré par Cambadélis et Bartoloné
Face, Aubry gagne
Pile, Royal perd
Et le PS est sauvé ;-))))"

MYOS said...

Found this on Telos
http://www.telos-eu.com/fr/article/qui_a_gagne_le_congres_de_reims

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