Saturday, October 31, 2009

Risk of Electricity Shortage

France will have to import as much as 4 gigawatts of electricity this winter owing to a shortage of domestic production, possibly linked to strikes at EDF nuclear plants earlier this year, which delayed maintenance. If there is a prolonged cold snap, there may blackouts.

Red in Tooth and Claw

French politics this week has been reminiscent of a nature film featuring wounded jungle beasts baring their fangs and attacking one another:

"Je [Pasqua] suis un animal de combat. On m'a cherché, on va me trouver. J'estime que dans cette affaire (Angolagate) la justice n'a pas bien fait son travail. C'est grâce à Arcadi Gaydamak (également condamné dans le dossier de l'Angolagate), qui est un ancien du KGB, que nous avons pu faire libérer nos deux pilotes détenus par les Serbes. Le président de la République Jacques Chirac et ses collaborateurs le savent bien. Je le démontrerai en appel", affirme-t-il.

The Veil: Choice or Imposition?

For Djemila Benhabib's view, see here.

Hollande Regrets Not Being Sarko

"J'étais le PS, pas le leader", écrivez-vous. Cruel constat ! Au PS, la question du leadership a toujours été compliquée. Le leader apparaît comme provisoire, c'était déjà le cas sous Mitterrand. C'est sans doute lié à la méfiance intrinsèque des socialistes à l'égard de l'élection présidentielle. J'étais le premier secrétaire. Pas le candidat. Cette distinction, maintenant établie avec la primaire, est un affaiblissement du PS.

This strikes me as the supreme equivocation in the tissue of equivocations that is this interview with François Hollande in advance of his forthcoming book. Yes, the Socialists are suspicious of the presidency, but every political party is composed of ambitious people who would like to hold the top job. Rivals can be vanquished (or eliminated by events), as in Sarkozy's case, or conciliated, as in Hollande's. Hollande remained in his post for so long because he was a clever mediator whom potential rivals did not see as an insuperable threat to their own chances. Hollande's eventual candidacy probably loomed larger in his own mind than in theirs, so they made no effort to oust him, and he made no great effort to vanquish them. This is the meaning of his confession that he may have "sacrificed too much to unity." Indeed, he may have, but not because he truly valued unity; rather, because he thought that if he kept a lid on internal dissension, his mere longevity in the leadership post would make him the natural candidate, or the one who divided the party least. On that he was dead wrong.


The Paris-Berlin axis is back: Merkel and Sarkozy will back the same candidate for the EU presidency. They're just not saying which one. I suppose there's some grand strategy in this coyness. The axis will have greater bargaining power in the backrooms where the decision is made if they bargain jointly but keep their options open. But they're supposed to be agreed on the nature of the job and a short list of names.