Friday, November 11, 2011

The "Four Currents" of the Right

Mediapart has an interesting analysis this morning of what it takes to be Sarkozy's new strategy vis-à-vis the UMP. Rather than pretend that no differences exist within the party, he has explicitly authorized four "currents" to express themselves. The very term recalls the good old days of the PS, with its constant inter-current sniping. In the UMP, according to Marine Turchi, we have the following currents: Droite populaire, Droite sociale, Droite humaniste, Réformateurs libéraux Le Figaro offers a similar breakdown, without the latter group. Each of these currents responds to some sort of disappointment with Sarkozy's reign.

The Droite popu' is out to recapture the FN voters who deserted Le Pen père in 2007 but are flocking to Le Pen fille in 2012. The liberal reformers are disappointed that Sarkozy's intended neoliberal rupture (low taxes, benefit reductions, labor market reforms) was curtailed by the crisis. The "humanists" are in fact centrists who cannot stomach the president's heavy-handed law-and-order approach to immigration and security issues. And the Social Right is a misnomer, because its real mission is to reorient social programs away from the poor and toward the middle class, where there are more votes to be had; helping the poor is now stigmatized as "fostering a culture of l'assistanat."

Apparently, a decision has been made that these differences can no longer be concealed behind the kind of soaring rhetoric that Guaino fashioned for Sarkozy in 2012. It's better to let each group attempt to persuade its own portion of the electorate that the president really favors their views but must, for strategic reasons, compromise with the others. Sarkozy himself will try to hover above the squabbling crabs, as Mitterrand did with the PS. In this way, he can run against his own record, which he must do, since it is a record that has left no one on the right fully satisfied.

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