Monday, October 10, 2011

Montebourg Sets Terms

Arnaud Montebourg wants the finalists to show their cards:

"Si les deux candidats veulent obtenir un geste de ma part et de celle de mes amis (...) il faudra certainement qu'ils renoncent à un certain nombre des recettes gestionnaires du passé, qu'ils ont défendues dans leur campagne", a-t-il ajouté.
Wednesday's debate is shaping up to be make-or-break.

Morelle Warns Aubry

Aquilino Morelle, a lieutenant of Arnaud Montebourg, links Aubry to DSK in an apparent effort to drive a wedge between his candidate and the party leader. Does Morelle speak for Montebourg? À suivre.

Regional Voting in the PS Primary

Here is an analysis of the regional vote in the PS primary. Long story short: Hollande in the countryside, Aubry in the cities, Montebourg in his own part of the country.

Was the Montebourg Vote Personal or Ideological?

I, along with many other analysts, have interpreted the Montebourg vote as a sign of ideological discontent, a protest from the left wing of the Socialist Party. But is this correct? Some observers, including François Hollande, suggest that the Montebourg vote was primarily an endorsement of Montebourg's personality, his good debate performance, his polished rhetoric, etc. This may be. I didn't see enough of the debates to assess how strong his performance was, but the press was certainly favorable. No doubt the truth is a mixture of both interpretations.

Funny. I met Montebourg a couple of years ago, even had dinner with him. I found him quite charming, a good conversationalist, but not terribly well-versed in economic policy issues. Indeed, having spent some time with Ségolène Royal as well, I thought that, despite her reputation as a relative lightweight, she had actually spent more time thinking about economic policy than Montebourg, or at least had been better briefed. A colleague and I left the Montebourg dinner together. As we walked out into the cold Beacon Hill air, we turned to each other and said simultaneously, "Awfully nice guy, but needs work if he's going to run for president." Just goes to show you what informed opinion is worth. Democratic politics is full of imponderables.

What the Right Is Thinking?

How would the Right like the PS primary to turn out? It would have been hard to tell from listening yesterday to Jean-François Copé, who vied with Pierre Moscovici in rudeness yesterday on France2. Copé had one point to make--that the 2.5 million Socialist voters were an unrepresentative and insignificant sample of the French electorate--and he made it as loudly, repeatedly, and unpleasantly as he could, while Moscovici was intent on painting "a great victory for democracy, the Left, and the Socialist Party," as if Sunday's better-than-expected turnout would somehow go down in history alongside the Popular Front demonstrations of 1936 or the 1981 liesse following the victory of Mitterrand. Those two almost made Laurent Fabius look like a sage--no mean feat.

But what does the Right really think about yesterday's results? If Aubry captures the Montebourg vote and absorbs any part of the Montebourg line, Sarkozy would probably be pleased. There would be plenty of contradictions to attack. Sarkozy could probably mount a stronger campaign against Aubry than against Hollande. On the other hand, working-class FN voters may be tempted by this more protectionist, anti- --or, pardon me, de- --globalization left. Even without the anti-immigrant line, this would be a more "populaire" left, likely to frighten some on the right who have grown weary of Sarkozy. So the net effect might be to weaken the FN in the first round while modestly strengthening the UMP vote--both to Sarkozy's benefit, since his worst nightmare has to be a first-round loss to Le Pen. In the second round, he would no doubt emphasize the "gauchisme" of the alliance of Mme 35 Heures with Arnaud "Mélenchon." A lot would then depend on Aubry's poise as a candidate, both on the stump and in debate. Perhaps we'll get an idea of how she would perform in this week's crucial debate with Hollande.

Bank Talks Continue

Meanwhile, Dexia has been nationalized by France and Belgium, and Sarkozy and Merkel have agreed on the need to support other threatened banks but are still dickering over how to do so.

A French Huffington Post

Le Monde and the Huffington Post will join forces to create a French version of HuffPo.