Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winner by Default

Through no virtue of their own, the Socialists appear poised to win big in the regionals: one poll gives them 31% vs. 27.5 for the UMP and 13 for Europe Ecologie. The Front de Gauche (6.5) is ahead of MoDem (4), and NPA has all but disappeared from the radar screen at 2. So it seems that the combined effects of the crisis, errors, overexposure, and the standard usure that afflicts all presidents has begun to extend beyond Sarkozy's personal approval rating to his party's standing. The realignment, still relatively modest, hasn't gone as I expected it would 18 months ago, when the NPA looked to be gaining and Bayrou had not yet entered into free fall. The "center" now seems to be located in Europe Ecologie. This is a very interesting development, which I don't claim to understand. I would appreciate pointers to studies of Europe Ecologie's demographics and electoral geography. Anyone?

There is talk now that Martine Aubry is hoping to score le grand chelem in the regionals, sweeping the board (which I suppose means counting Frêche as a Socialist even though he's been excluded), and if so she expects to walk away with the PS presidential nomination as her prize. I'm not at all sure that's the way things will play out, and I think that reading the new lay of the land will not be easy for any of the parties trying to maneuver in the presidential sweepstakes, including Sarkozy's. What the people want is much less easy to say than what they don't want, namely, what they have now. But if the PS does win big, I think Sarko will have to respond with a major shakeup, even if it means sacking Fillon, who is far more popular than the president himself and who was apparently assured that he would remain in place. And then what?


Hadleigh Roberts said...

French voters often tell me that they don't see how Europe Ecologie and Les Verts can apply their program on a municipal scale. I think it has something to do with this idea.

In a Conseil Général byelection in Nice in September, just after the massive victory for EE, they only got around 7% in the 1er tour; less than the FN.

Voters tend to think the green agenda only applies on a larger field (like "Europe") perhaps the Conseil Régional is within the cutoff point.

James Conran said...

"even if it means sacking Fillon, who is far more popular than the president himself"

Surely "being more popular than the president" is the definition of a PM failing to fulfil their function!

MYOS said...

Martine Aubry changed the way she defines "le grand chelem" in a way that allows her to claim Frêche and Alsace (which may go Green, due to Germany's influence): le grand chelem is not "le ps gagne toutes les régions" but "aucune victoire à l'UMP".

I don't now how EuropeEcologie and Frêche will react to such an attempt.

However, I don't think victory will be fully credited to Aubry. Indeed, I've heard a few pundits explain that if the PS wins, it WON'T be thanks to Aubry, but thanks to the local forces. Of course, the regional presidents all agree with that analysis. :) Since controlling the interpretation is crucial and since this analysis is already making the rounds, I don't think Martine Aubry will score as big as she thought she woud, at least in the media.

The Languedoc Roussillon will prove to be a major blunder - not in intent, but in realization : since there was a PS list about to exist in September but Aubry nixed it for fear going against Frêche would give the region to Couderc (UMP allied to FN) and since about everyone except Aubry admitted that Frêche is not an antisemite, the last-minute decision now appears as a ploy clothed in "morals".

Practically speaking, it was very poorly done: making the decision six weeks before the election; announcing on TV that "of course" Europe Ecologie will support the PS without having the courtesy of asking EE first, refusing an EE leadership for the potential PS-EE list (let us keep in mind EE have opposed Freche for over 10 years and that they had their own list ready so PS was guesting there ... whereas Aubry required a PS leadership with the EE leader pushed back); making it sound like a Parisian mandate to the boorish, outspoken, sanguine South; and to top it off the "purge" with almost 60 socialists kicked out, all conspire to create a regionalist reflex against Aubry. In these Regionals the cameras will be in Poitou-Charentes, in Languedoc-Roussillon, in Alsace, and in Ile de France. So the frechistes will have all the microphones they ever wanted to spoil any victory Aubry might have wanted to claim. Collomb and RHones Alpes will join so I actually think that as a paradox we'll see that the Regionals will fragilize Aubry within party ranks.

Europe Ecologie might have gotten over itself: it's now targeting regions with many cameras and threatens to have "triangulaire" elections like the FN did to UMP in the past. Oddly enough, they don't threaten "triangulaire" where Ecologists have been poorly treated or where the PS is notoriously nepotist if not corrupt - they picked Poitou Charents which probably got the most "ecological" "governor" of all.

Modem: Bayrou is keeping funding for 2012 so local Modems must individually fund their own campaign. Nevertheless Bayrou believes he can dictate what these independents can or cannot do, regardless of the local situation. For example, in Languedoc Roussillon, the local chapter had elected a list with a local leader, Bayrou replaced him with someone else so the entire list quit.

MYOS said...

slate about EE:

MYOS said...

For once, something worth noting and without histrionics from JFKahn: