Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cohn-Bendit on the PS

Dany puts his finger on the weakness of the emerging PS strategy. The Socialists cannot win without allying with some outside force. The dominant faction within the party appears to want to angle for an alliance with the left of the left (see Hamon's "Real Equality" platform, discussed here yesterday). In practice, this means courting Mélenchon's Parti de Gauche or Besancenot's NPA. But it is hard to see what the basis of such an alliance would be, while it is not at all difficult to see how it would alienate centrist and center-left voters. The Greens are the obvious alternative, but Socialists seem to take it for granted that Greens will have no choice but to join them in the second round and are not engaging in the kind of local bargaining that might give substance to that assumption. There is an old adage in the PS, going back to Mitterrand's time, that the path to victory veers left on the first round and right on the second. But the electorate has changed in ways that Socialists appear not to appreciate.

The G20

If you don't live in France, you're probably unaware that the G20 meeting that begins today in Seoul is to be presided over by Nicolas Sarkozy. Even if you do live in France, you may well be in the dark. In certain circles, however, there has been a good deal of buzz about whether Sarkozy can use the G20 to revive his flagging political fortunes at home. The answer is obviously no, but this is not apparent to the few who live inside the bubble of high-level international diplomacy. Take this comment by Hubert Védrine, for instance, which dates from September:

Quelles sont les conditions d'un succès pour Nicolas Sarkozy?
On peut imaginer que dans cet exercice, il sera bon. Il a été bon quand il présidait l'Union européenne en 2008. Il aura l'énergie, l'inventivité, etc. Je ne pense pas que son image soit trop atteinte et que ça puisse l'empêcher de mener cette présidence à bien. En même temps, c'est très compliqué, parce que les objectifs sont très ambitieux. Mais il peut tout à fait aboutir à ce qu'on dise qu'il a fait la meilleure présidence possible.

Of course, even if Sarko does have "the best possible presidency," it won't matter a jot to French voters, who could care less whether such French priorities as "setting up a permanent G20 secretariat" are achieved. This is not to say that such institutions of international governance don't matter. They do, but the man in the street won't hear about them. He may not even hear about the "clash of titans," the "G2 within the G20," or "the face-off between today's mega-power (the US) and tomorrow's (China)." I wonder how many even know that Sarko is in Seoul, compared with the number who know that he flew there on a new A330 that has been dubbed "Air SarkoOne." In an era of austerity, the median voter is more likely to care about the sous squandered on presidential transportation than on the destination of the journey. Sad, perhaps, but true.

Didier Fassin

Le Monde calls attention to the work of Didier Fassin, the French physician and medical anthropologist who was recently appointed to Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study.

Du Rififi chez les Verts

Sigh. Can't even the folks who think that Man can live in harmony with Nature live in harmony with one another? "Sectarianism" indeed:

Dans les colonnes du Parisien, le député européen Daniel Cohn-Bendit est loin de partager l'enthousiasme de Cécile Duflot. Chez les Verts, "le sectarisme n'a pas disparu", assène-t-il, exemples à l'appui. "La semaine dernière, j'ai fait une déclaration pour proposer l'asile politique à Martin Hirsh [sic] à qui les députés UMP faisaient des misères. Eh bien, certains Verts se sont cru obligés de faire des mails de protestation pour dire 'Dany est à droite'. Ils n'ont même pas compris l'ironie !"

Martin Hirsch! Have you no shame, les Verts?