Monday, November 10, 2008

Professional Blogging in France

Le Monde today describes the blogosphere as a "flourishing sector" and says that a number of French bloggers are doing well enough to "go pro," living on their ad revenues. Enviable colleagues! Perhaps readers will be reminded of the benefits that accrue from an occasional visit to one or more of our ever-changing cast of sponsors (conveniently arrayed in the right column).

Recommendations for G20

Economists offer recommendations for the G20 in a new e-book, whose contents are summarized here. I note that the first essay, by Alesina and Tabellini, stresses the need for swift action and states bluntly that "the ECB is behind the curve" on interest rate reductions. This on the same day that Le Monde is foolishly extolling "the revenge of super-Trichet."

Sarko of Arabia

Is Sarkozy pushing the EU into Iraq to help the US execute its exit strategy and thus curry favor with President Obama? Judah Grunstein thinks this may be the case.

A propos Sarkozy's eagerness to switch his notoriously eager affections from Bush to Obama, see this cartoon, signaled by Boz.

Two Scenarios for the PS

Gérard Grunberg sees the fate of the French left hanging on the decisions Ségolène Royal makes in the next few days. He envisions two scenarios: an "Epinay" scenario, in which she turns to the left, runs on an anticapitalist, "hexagonal" common program, and hopes that by 2012 the broader electorate will be ready to support such a line; or else she turns openly to the center, recognizes that "anticapitalism" is no more promising as a theme today than it was yesterday, and runs on a platform of restoring the health and fairness of the market economy.

This analysis is fine as far as it goes, I think, but it avoids the question of what kind of party is to emerge from this congress. This, in turn, is a function of a decision about how the eventual presidential candidate will be chosen--a decision that need not be taken now but ought to be taken soon. What Royal wants at bottom is a broad-based presidential party à la Sarko's UMP. She would like its candidate to be chosen in a national primary with broad eligibility for voting. But to make this a condition now of coalition with motion E would be divisive. It seems to me that this calculation is guiding her choices at the moment. If she is to become a candidate in an eventual party primary, it's better if she isn't designated the party leader now. The party leader will have to organize the primary and negotiate the conditions under which it is held. It would be better to have a neutral, or at any rate a less partial, figure in that role. Hence Peillon or Dray (though I'm not sure how credible Dray would be as a neutral arbiter). Although Grunberg presents the "Epinay" option as the more probable, I think--and I suspect he thinks--that the other option is the one Royal has chosen and that its consequences are being played out at this moment in the discussions of which surrogate will become party leader. That is why Mélenchon has quit the party and why other diehard supporters of the Epinay option, such as Emmanuelli, are desperately trying to organize an "anyone but Ségo" blocking force.

Du Concret

Here's an interesting development: the first coordinated naval operation in EU history, directed against Somalian pirates. The absurdity of unchecked piracy in these waters has at last elicited a genuine and concerted military response. The commander is British, and France, German, the UK, and Spain are participating.

Playing well in Poitiers

Nicolas Sarkozy's makeover as a state capitalist seems to be playing well in one constituency: the left. His approval rating among left-wing sympathizers is now 29%, up 10 since the last survey. The center likes him too: 46% of Modem supporters approve, up 11 percent. Overall, his approval stands at 48%, up 8.

It's tough to be a politician in a democracy. Folks are so fickle.

Hmmm ...

A correspondent informs me that Yazid Sabeg, whom Charles Bremner mentioned (with misspelled name) in the post I quoted yesterday, is a former advisor to Jean-Louis Borloo, and that Carla Bruni's well-publicized support of his "call for real equality of opportunity" suggests a well-orchestrated effort to catch the wave of enthusiasm for Obama in the banlieues. Nevertheless, anything that focuses attention on the suburbs is welcome. Let's hope the effort is sustained and not limited to one news cycle.

A Useful Corrective

Judah Grunstein defends Sarkozy's foreign-policy achievements against my critique.