Saturday, June 20, 2009

Question primaire, question fondamentale

Arnaud Montebourg, the smooth and photogenic deputy, and Olivier Ferrand, the director of the think tank Terra Nova, are in charge of a working group of the PS whose mission is to figure out how to accomplish the famous "renovation" for which party militants have been waiting since 2002. They've just submitted a report to Martine Aubry advocating an open primary as the route to salvation. It worked for the American Democrats, they suggest: Obama was able to sweep away the tarnished older generation. Montebourg would no doubt like to be the sweeper, if his proposal is accepted, but he'll have stiff competition. This interesting note considers le profil beau gosse as one element of a tripartite typology of présidentiables:

Sur ce registre, les candidats ne manquent pas et la liste s’allongera à mesure que le PS restera éloigné du pouvoir : Vincent Peillon (52 ans en 2012) Arnaud Montebourg (50 ans) Manuel Valls (50 ans) Benoit Hamon (45 ans) sont les principaux, mais on peut en imaginer bien d’autres puisque l’essentiel est d’être jeune et neuf. On pourrait même aller à faire comme en Allemagne et organiser un jeu de télé réalité pour dénicher la nouvelle star qui saura séduire les foules, cet « Obama français » que toute la classe politico-médiatique attend depuis un an. Après tout pourquoi pas, si c’est ce que la politique est devenue ! Il y a certainement des talents cachés qui ne demandent qu’à éclore, et même peut-être au sein du PS !

But in the end this writer believes that the best candidate to head a "republican front" opposition to Sarkozy would be Hubert Védrine. A suggestion I hadn't heard before. What do readers say?


Leo said...

Védrine is indeed a cool operator.
But he is obviously not interested in mundane politics and lacks charisma.
Count him out.

Hadleigh Roberts said...

I'm inclined to champion Vincent Peillon, but that may be just because I work for the PS Alpes-Maritimes and Le Conseil Regional PACA!

william middleton said...

Aside from the amusing idea of an "American Idol" for French politics, I think this is an important proposal.

Imposing Socialist Party candidates from above is clearly not working. I have long had the impression that most French citizens are closer to the ideals of the Socialists than to the right yet the left has been trounced in recent elections. Instead of this top-down organization, why not try picking candidates from the ground up?

And one great side benefit of last year's hard-fought, seemingly-endless Democratic primary, was that is focused a lot more interest on the party and helped create new Democratic voters. There could be worse things to happen to the PS.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

The problem is that the last Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal, WAS chosen in a primary contest. She defeated Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Laurent Fabius. Some observers (including me) think that DSK would have been a stronger candidate. SR was elected with votes that came from new party members, who were allowed to join at the last minute and pay a reduced membership fee. Some Socialists think that this method of selection was a mistake and therefore oppose the primary route.

william middleton said...

I didn't think of the way Ségolène Royal was chosen as a primary though I guess it was. Given the visit with Obama's team in Washington, I thought this idea sounded closer to the American model. Now that I've read more of the detail in the Libération article, however, it seems to be more complicated than that (bless our French friends--they've never come across a simple idea they couldn't manage to make more complicated!).

I don't think the US system is perfect. The funding, for example, is a major problem here. And we've certainly made some bad choices in America based on issues like electability (John Kerry) instead of who really reflected our ideals. But I still maintain that anything that makes the process more reflective of the will of the people is a good thing.

Oh, and I agree that DSK would have made a great candidate--he might not fit the profile of an 'Obama français' but is it too late?

MYOS said...

I think it's too late for DSK: he said that he would only come back if he didn't have to run through a primary - he stated, very plainly, that he wants to be named the candidate, not run for it. Since the only ones opposing the primaries are Hollande, Jospin, and Fabius, and since Martine Aubry doesn't like the idea but doesn't seem able to stop the idea, count DSK out.
As for his being a stronger candidate, I'm not sure. To me, he comes accross like John Kerry did.
I agree with William that the process seems needlessly complicated. Plus, seeing how their own internal elections were rigged, I am not sure how the PS intend on setting a fraud-free electoral system on such a large scale.