Friday, April 8, 2011

"Ces gens n'entreront pas en France"

The words are Christian Estrosi's. He's going to stand in the schoolhouse door, as it were, to prevent Tunisian refugees from leaving Italy despite authorization from the Italian government, which insists that the responsibility for handling the influx of refugees belongs to all of Europe, not Italy alone.

"Nous ne les laisserons pas rentrer"

by Europe1fr

Danes want to make immigrants pay for state services


Zozo's Revenge

"Borloo, c'est un zozo," François Fillon is supposed to have said back when Borloo was rumored to be in line for Fillon's job. Now Borloo has his revenge. His move yesterday to quit the UMP and explore the opening for a new party in the center is a finger in the eye of Sarkozy--and in the eyes of the squabbling heirs apparent of the tattered Sarkozy mantle, Fillon and Copé. A Borloo candidacy would increase the probability of a Sarkozy defeat in the first round and possibly increase the likelihood of a victory for Marine Le Pen--and therefore of the Left in the second round. So what is Borloo's game? Does he think he can create enough of a dynamic in the center actually to prevail in the first round? It's possible but not entirely in his control: this would depend on the nominee of the Left. If DSK is chosen, I can't see this happening.

So assume that DSK does run? What does Borloo want? It would be plausible to assume that he'd want some kind of promise from Sarkozy in return for ending his candidacy after a decent interval and returning to the fold. Prime minister? Would he really want to serve under Sarko after his public humiliation last year? Perhaps. Politicians are prepared to swallow a great deal in return for power. A stint as prime minister would make Borloo more présidentiable in 2017. But maybe his candidacy is more visceral than that. Maybe he just wants to screw Sarko after having been seduced and abandoned.

It has now become impossible to describe the French presidential field to anyone who hasn't been following French politics for a while. There are just too many variables. This can't last. After DSK gets in or out, I would look forward to some sort of simplification.

Ivory Coast: The Future

Gbagbo is still in his bunker, but Alain Juppé is already preparing the future, which in some respects looks like a return to the past. Sarkozy's Africa policy had been predicated on the idea of repudiating the spirit of Françafrique and treating France's former African colonies as full-fledged states. But the Juppé blueprint suggests a new mise en tutelle, at least in the short term, as Ivory Coast's financial system and economy, ruined by Gbagbo's desperate attempt to remain in power, are rebuilt. After that, it remains to be seen whether old habits can truly be broken, especially when the substantial expat population in IC, now thoroughly traumatized by recent events, will probably clamor for closer French involvement.

Legal Immigration

Claude Guéant has evidently become President Sarkozy's "designated hitter" when it comes to immigration. Yesterday, he repudiated the official policy of l'immigration choisie, saying that with so many unemployed in France, even legal immigration would have to be reduced. But today Christian Lagarde went after him, noting that immigration of certain types of workers was and would continue to be an economic necessity. Since the coexistence of unemployment at home with the importation of workers from abroad is difficult for some people to grasp, one can expect Marine Le Pen to make use of this controversy. One has to wonder how much of Guéant's performance has been deliberate and how much is due simply to the clumsiness of a political neophyte. Nevertheless, public disagreement between ministers looks bad, and Sarkozy will have to decide how he wants to play this issue as we move into the election season. For the moment, he can let Guéant rattle on, but at some point he will have to defend all of these dérapages in his own name or else repudiate them. Either way, he makes himself vulnerable. The whole strategy seems unusually clumsy for Sarkozy, who may lack other qualities but has generally been a canny political tactician.