Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Future of the Socialist Party

When I began this blog, shortly after the election of Sarkozy, one of my reasons was that I expected to follow the "renovation" of the Socialist Party, which, it seemed to me, had no choice but to change its approach to politics. The past two years have proved disappointing in this respect.

Sunday's results suggest that voters were also disappointed. And now two more indications that the Socialists have come to a decisive moment. In an interesting comment, Bernard Girard suggests that the PS has ceased to be a party of opposition and is now little more than un vivier. By "party of opposition" Bernard means a party that is out of power but is nevertheless able to impose its themes and concerns on the party in power. The PS can no longer do that, and this role has passed, for better or worse, to the Greens, despite the fact that the latter are no less riven by contradiction than the former: Cohn-Bendit + Bové adds up to what, exactly? The fact remains: the governing party cannot ignore the Greens, as exemplified by a post yesterday on Alain Juppé's blog. It can and does ignore the Socialists.

A second indication of the dilemma of the PS came in the form of a g-chat yesterday with a young man from the French provinces who follows this blog. He has been a staunch supporter of Ségolène Royal and even maintains a Web site promoting her candidacy in 2012. But on Sunday, he tells me, he voted for Europe Écologie, as did his parents, who have voted Socialist all their lives. Why? Nothing specific. Just a general ras le bol. When a political party reaches this point with its core supporters, it is in very serious trouble.

ADDENDUM: Vincent Peillon increases the pressure on Aubry to respond to Sunday's results. In particular, he is calling for open primaries to choose the presidential candidate, a discussion of alliances before the regional elections, and a new party line (was there an old one?) to take account of the fact that the Greens are now the major rival on the left.