Sunday, August 23, 2009


Well, it had to happen. With the Socialist Party in disintegration and Martine Aubry apparently unable to keep her mavericks in line, despite several overt cracks of the whip this summer, others were bound to see an opportunity. Vincent Peillon, whose courant is called "Espoir à gauche," may indeed see hope on the left, or he may merely sense opportunity, whether for himself or for Ségolène Royal, whom he supported in the leadership struggle, remains to be seen. In any case, he managed to pull together various elements of the Left Nebula, including the Greens, the ex-PCF leader Robert Hue, MoDem's Marielle de Sarnez (did I say Left Nebula?--Sarnez may be more nebulous than left), etc. And so here we are, in Marseille, trying to put together a sort of Programme Commun bis, and things have reached such a point of desperation that it may even work.

François Rebsamen sees a "historic moment" for the country. Cohn-Bendit, as is his habit, was a bit more down-to-earth: there has as yet been no meeting of the minds, much less unity, so a Programme Commun is still a bit far off. But what this meeting has done is to arm the anti-Aubry forces going into the PS Université d'Été later this month. Aubry doesn't want an open primary, but it's going to be hard to counter the momentum generated by Peillon's rassemblement and Delanoë's capitulation. Montebourg and Hamon are also calling for primaries. And in an open primary of the left, Royal will very likely do better than Aubry or Hollande. What Ségo has to fear, however, is DSK, who has just outpolled everyone to become the favorite presidential hopeful of the French. Another year at the IMF could allow DSK to return home in quasi-triumph, having done his bit to counter the economic crisis and now responding to the summons of the left-wing electorate. Having made Caesar general, Sarko may now have to fear the putsch.

ADDENDUM: The PCF is not happy about this latest development. Neither is the NPA. Polling indicates that most respondents favor a PS-Green alliance but not a PS-MoDem alliance. And here is a decidedly jaundiced view from Gérard Courtois.


kirkmc said...

Two points. First, from what they showed on the news (admittedly just sound bites, but that's what most people hear), this "courant" is mostly interested in finding a candidate for 2012, rather than making constructive suggestions for 2009, 2010 or 2011. This is what the socialists have been doing since Sarkozy was elected: they've been obsessed about the next election, rather than being a political force with any ideas at all.

Second, does _anyone_ seriously think that Strauss-Kahn, after a couple of years in international government, with the salary and perks that come with it, really wants to come back and run for president? My guess is that he's more than happy where he is, and when his term is up, the old boys' club will give him another high-paying job as thanks for having kept capitalism alive during this crisis. He's no socialist any more.

Unknown said...

On your second point, yes, the intensity of DSK's ambition has always been a question, and it may be that his sybaritic appetites will overwhelm any lingering desire to become the head of state. But don't underestimate the power of ambition. Like you, I'm skeptical, but I don't discount the possibility entirely, especially if there is a powerful draft movement, and there might well be.

On your first point, yes, the presidential focus continues to afflict the Socialists, but the Greens are now an almost equal partner in any potential coalition, and the presidency is not their focus at all. If there is to be an alliance, the Socialists will have to meet the demands of the Greens by paying more than lip service to the issues that motivate their potential partners. Indeed, this is the main reason why I think there is room for optimism in this latest development. Socialists have been reduced to the point where they find it necessary to understand what people outside the party apparatus want. That is the sine qua non of political success. A minimum, to be sure, and not a guarantee of progress.

MYOS said...

DSK stated very clearly that he's not interested in a primary. He's only interested in being named, without a contest or a pre-election, THE candidate for the PS. Anything else and he won't come back.
With the Primaries being set on course, either he'll change his tune or he'll stick to his decision. No matter what he won't be in such a strong position.

I don't think Saturday's "Workshops" were about finding a candidate. I listened to De Sarnez'speech as well as CohnBendit's and I did not hear anything about "finding a candidate". Bayrou is still clearly a candidate for 2012. Presence at the "Workshops" did not imply support for the PS or its candidate, either. Rather, I heard people who were trying to acknowledge differences and what they call "convergences". Sure it could be pulpit-posturing but still, it matters that Marielle de Sarnez was there, that she could be applauded by PS members (while the official doctrine is that the Modem is a wolf in sheep's clothing, "de droite", and that one should ignore them because they don't matter since they lose all elections).