Monday, March 22, 2010

Not good at resisting temptation

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as we know, is not good at resisting temptations of many kinds. It looks as though yesterday's election results just created another one:

Now, however, the rumor mill is heating up with gossip that the Fund’s managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, will leave in order to oppose Nikolas Sarkozy in the 2012 French presidential elections. Sarkozy’s popularity is hitting new lows, and Strauss-Kahn’s friends say that he has never made a secret of his political ambitions.

French Politics on New York Talk Radio

I'm scheduled to do an interview on the regional elections tomorrow morning on WWRL, a talk radio station in New York (1600 on your AM dial if you happen to be in the Big Apple). The interviewer is Errol Louis (pictured): "Talkers Magazine recently named him one of the 'Heavy 100,' the top talk show hosts in America." If you're in NYC, tune in!

"Je ne vous ai pas compris!"

Well, Sarko rejected my advice to make a bold move and instead shuffled a few minor cards in his deck. Poor Xavier Darcos. He always gave the impression of being an earnest fellow. François Baroin takes over the budget, while Woerth replaces Darcos. Georges Tron joins Bruno Le Maire as the second Villepiniste in the lion's den. Martin Hirsch has been sacrified to the baying rightist hounds. Copé wants to burn the carbon tax. Oh, and Besson stays where he is. Heck of a job, Brownie. Apparently Fadela Amara stays too, although she was rumored to be on the chopping block, having accomplished nothing in 3 years. But then again, if she went, to whom would Sarko point when he wanted to remind people that he once had a "Marshall Plan for the suburbs?" Is there any discernible strategy in all this?

And the Socialists? They apparently want the "territorial reform" withdrawn. And who can blame them? The status quo seems to be working just fine for them, and the more money diverted from national to regional governments, the better off they are.

More Euro-Pessimism

Earlier I cited Wolfgang Munchau, a Euro-pessimist on the economic front (along with many others). Here is Dominique Moïsi with some Euro-pessimism on the energy and security front:

What is clear is that any ambition to define a common European energy and security policy toward Russia is slowly disappearing. From Berlin to Paris, and from Paris to Rome, European leaders may ultimately be doing the same thing, but they are all doing it separately, as competitors vying for Russian favor rather than as partners within a supposedly tight-knit Union.

Not so Nice

I love Nice, one of my favorite cities. I'll be there in May. But going to PACA after Jean-Marie Le Pen racks up 22.87% of the vote there feels a bit like going to Spain during the Franco era. You start to look at people in the street and wonder: Is he or she one of them.

Grunberg: Une nouvelle dynamique à gauche

The fire in the belly argument, translated into French.

Apocalypse Now

Wolfgang Munchau in the FT:

But either outcome will mark the beginning of the end of Europe’s economic and monetary union as we know it. This is the true historical significance of Ms Merkel’s decision.

From Movement to (Anti-?)Party

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, with an ironic nod, perhaps, to General de Gaulle, has issued "l'Appel du 22 mars" calling upon those who voted for Europe Écologie to -- do what? Transform a social movement into a political party? That would be the classic institutionalizing move of a movement leader who has moved from the sphere of critique into the realm of power. Or is he rather calling for the movement to resist becoming a political party, on the perfectly reasonable grounds that the movement's success has both capitalized on and laid bare the bankruptcy of the traditional parties, their "isolation" from an active, dynamic, and unhappy civil society, and their preoccupation with the ambitions of their own leaders? Instead of this, he is calling upon the social movement to make itself perennial, to perpetuate its "social and cultural biodiversity," and thus to exalt the collectivity ("une forme politique largement inédite") over any potential leadership.

To be slightly waspish about it, one might see this as a sort of Green Trotskyism. If it were anyone but Cohn-Bendit making the call, one might worry about the assertion of charismatic authority in the name of, or as substitute for, a formal structure capable of preserving the freedom it rather too generously distributes to the "masses." But Dany the Green retains all of the boyish boisterousness of Dany the Red. This is May '68 asserting its rights against the president who ran in part on an anti-May platform. At the end, however, there is talk of "une structuration du mouvement" and of the construction of regional Collectives (Soviets?) that will eventually give way to a "Cooperative" (Supreme Soviet?) that they will have "helped to construct." Students of the institutionalization of charisma will want to pay close attention to how this all plays out in practice. So will Cécile Duflot, whose name, unless I've missed it, doesn't figure in Dany's appel. (h/t Éloi)

Back to Basics?

Which basics? asks Bernard Girard.