Tuesday, March 8, 2011

La Patrie en Danger

The tocsin has been sounded. Marine Le Pen's astonishing rise in the polls signals a rejection not just of Sarkozy but of the existing political class as a whole by a substantial and growing segment of the electorate. If the Socialist Party wants to win the next election, it should react now by advancing the date of its primary to June. This will oblige Strauss-Kahn to fish or cut bait. The time for dithering is over. The candidate of the Socialist Party needs to be chosen soon and needs to be in the trenches from the date of the primary, fighting to stop the ras-le-bol defections to the extreme right.

The challenge is particularly acute for DSK. The economic populism that the Front National has lately made its fonds de commerce is diametrically opposed to what Strauss-Kahn stands for. He needs to make a forceful case for France's continued engagement in the global economy, and he needs to look working-class voters in the eye as he makes that case. And if he doesn't have the stomach for this, then he should stand aside and let someone else try. And whoever does make the run should seek to create une union sacrée: do what it takes to bring the ecologists on board, perhaps woo Mélenchon back into the fold (I don't discount the possibility), and make an ouverture to the center--more importantly at the level of the rank and file, perhaps, than of the leadership. There should be many nervous voters in the center susceptible to an appeal for un vote utile in the first round.

I have no doubt that Marine Le Pen will not be the next president of France. If she does eliminate the candidate of the center left or the center right in the first round, the remaining candidate will win. But a president by default is not what France needs. If the left wants that president to be someone other than Sarkozy, it needs to show that it cares what people say even when it isn't election day.


Kirk said...

But a primary in June means a 9-month campaign (even though officially the campaign doesn't start until much later). I don't think that's good for anyone. Of course, the way the Socialists are approaching it is as a 5-year campaign, doing little other than talking about "2012" like it's some sort of magical year.

It's true, though, that many French people are sick and tired of the same old politicians. But that certainly won't change the way the parties work. There are too many egos for too few positions.

bouillaud said...

Don't be so nervous! Remember that we are heading to the "Cantonales".These elections, normally with few voters, will show if the FN is really expanding its hard-core voting base, in the more politically motivated persons.
If so, let's then panic.

For the socialists, they should change nothing, or it would be a show of unnecessary panic. "Le vin est tiré, il faut le boire".

Anonymous said...

bouillaud, I disagree with you: the cantonales won't show anything about Le Fn, because the problem here is Marine le Pen.
However, only hardcore voters go to the cantonales, which few understand in the first place and which brings few big names to the table. So it'll only be interesting is MLP is a candidate - then her results will be meaningful. Beyond that the cantonales will only affect the Sénate.
MLP capitalizes sympathies on her name beyond the traditional radical right, and thanks to Sarkozy's bridge building (identité nationale, the minister and the debate, the Roma, the Grenoble speech) it's now become mainstream to express racist views. These racist views aren't quite race-based but focus on an us/them that includes post-colonial superior attitudes where low creatures from base cultures try to drag France back (it may sound harsh but I believe one reason France had such trouble grasping what was happening in Tunisia is that the country is still seen with colonial eyes assuming French superiority and Arab inferiority hence the impossibility to find 1789 in the Maghreb) and a sense that high-powered foreigners destroy what's left (TNCs, financial markets, traders, hedge funds and their minions -- these may be thought as including Jews, but antisemitism is now stronger elsewhere than in the radical right).
I remember how Le Pen was shunned, unacceptable on TV. Marine Le Pen does TV programs equal to Martine Aubry. She's become acceptable, mainstream. Add to this the fact that many people on the left truly don't think Sarkozy and Le Pen are that far apart (with regards to immigration and fiscal policies) and you have a disastrous mix for the national level.
Finally, as Art points out, this truly is a sign that the right and the left failed.
I can't figure out why the Left wants to leave a vaccuum mid October with their primaires (a June election would have made more sense, especially as it'd have given time for reconciliation over the summer vacation and officially in La Rochelle).
But Aubry doesn't think so, she believes that the PS is blameless and all is Sarko's fault.
(And she's the person who didn't want to look into corruption with even physical violence, in the Marseille PS, with apparently similar stories in Nord pas de Calais and Normandie Haute. And the more established politicians turn a blind eye to corruption, the more the radical right festers.)
As for Sarkozy, his spokesman was on C+ yesterday indicated it was the PS' fault, because they didn't do their job as l'opposition properly.
With such a level of analysis, Marine Le Pen can keep riding in the polls.


Anonymous said...

Case in point: in order to "prove" that the UMP has "real solution" to immigration, an UMP congresswoman/ spokesperson suggests immigrants be shipped back where they came from.