Friday, April 27, 2012

Villepin Speaks Out

Revenge is sweet. Dominique de Villepin must be enjoying the opportunity to lambaste his nemesis Nicolas Sarkozy for "crossing all republican redlines" and betraying the Gaullist heritage in a headlong "electoralist" rush after the 6 million votes of the Front National, without which Sarkozy will be condemned to making the money he craves for the rest of his life. Still, even allowing for Villepin's ulterior motives, his words should be heeded:

La première exigence, c'est de regarder plus loin que cette élection pour affronter les grands défis à venir. Notre réponse au chômage, au déclin industriel, au défi énergétique, notre réorientation vers une économie de la connaissance par une éducation nationale plus juste et plus efficace, notre place en Europe, nous ne les trouverons pas dans l'idéologie. La clé de ces urgences, c'est le rassemblement, c'est l'action, c'est le sens du devoir.


Mitch Guthman said...

I think it is impossible to make sense of anything until we see what Sarkozy will do. I think he hinted at making the FN a “normal party” in return for support but there was considerable pushing back from the left (including comparisons between Sarko and Pétain) and even from Le Pen herself.

Also, do I read too much into this or is Villepin hinting that if Sarkozy continues to pursue FN supporters with extreme-right positions and gestures offering normalization, he (Villepin) would join the calls for a « front républicain » à la 2002?

Is it therefore possible that such a move by Sarkozy might break the UMP and cause the Gaullist elements to migrate to the modems? Would those elements of the UMP be responsive to a statement from Bayrou saying that the Gaullist elements would be welcome in the MoDem?

Mainly, I’m puzzled by Bayrou’s passivity. As I mention earlier, others in the center and in the modems are already choosing sides (almost entirely against Sarkozy) and some a threatening to split the party if Bayrou recommends Sarkozy. His influence decreases by the minute.

At the same time, I see a historic opportunity for Bayrou. If he calls for a « front républicain » he might have significant influence with the Hollande government and, if the UMP fragments and much of the party essentially aligns with the FN, he might be able to establish the modems as a real party and position it to supplant the UMP as the Gaullist-leaning/centrist alternative. Yet he apparently vacillates. Why?

Anonymous said...

Mitch, I'm with you: If Sarkozy loses (and I've used a fondapol tool that allows you to try several projections - I haven't found a possible-even-if-unlikely configuration where he wins and no likely winning combination) then the UMP will split: one part will side with people who accept the FN (with agreements on policy and electoral deals) and one will create a center-right party where Bayrou and Juppé would be big.
Bayrou wrote his letter, ala Montebourg, and said he'd wait for May 2 and the Big Debate. But I don't see how the Debate can erase the last few days. Just this morning Sarkozy suggested repelling a 1974 law on contraception access (women are up in arms - I think he just didn't know his stuff and spoke from lack of knowledge rather than advocating a pet project of the FN's, but still...) Yesterday he advocated police officers being able to shoot without warning, this being automatically considered "justifiable homicide/self defense". Even Guéant had thought this was a bit much a couple months ago when Marine Le Pen advocated this. So for Bayrou the choice should be clear. But he won't speak until Thursday.
In my opinion, he will not call for Sarkozy. He will call for Hollande if he can overcome his disgust for things socialist, and he'll call for "un vote nul, personnellement", telling people not to vote for Sarkozy but not deciding between null and Hollande.

Some articles I found:

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Anonymous,

I think you are right that even if the split does not occur before the election, a loss by Sarkozy might still break the UMP. Except for the one very excellent article in a Mediapart blog explicitly calling for a «front républicain» (the link for which was in a comment here), I haven’t seen anyone else called for it although I think it is implicit in what many people, including Mélenchon, have been saying.

I saw Bayrou’s letter but I did not understand it at all. Sarkozy is already talking out of both sides of his mouth so what could he say at the debate that will undo what he has already done? The overtures to the FN have been made. If he says he didn’t mean what he said, will this be enough for Bayrou? If not, why wait? As I said, his influence obviously decreases by the minute. Who in the modems will be waiting until Thursday to hear Bayrou pronounce?

I hope you are wrong that if Bayrou will recommend a nul vote if he does not endorse Hollande. Again, if the analogy to 2002 is correct, what’s the point of a nul vote? Is Bayrou willing to say that it would be better for Sarkozy to be reelected with the decisive support coming from the FN? (For which a high price would be claimed by Le Pen, of that I am certain). Again, what could possibly happen on Thursday that would change the fundamental structure of the election?

My how is that he will say that while he disagrees with Hollande on many issues, the real issue in this election is whether the principles of the FN are compatible with “républicanisme». My hope is that he will call for a «front républicain» and all the leaders will immediately join the front as they did in 2002. At the same time, I hope that he reaches out to the center and center-right or Gaullist elements in the UMP and call on them to join the modems as an act of solidarity.

A gave a couple of your links a quick glance and I’ll try to work my way trough them over the weekend. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

@Mitch: I think "l'impossible choix des électeurs Modem" is the best article. I found it easy to read: you have 5 Modems who all explain what's at stake for them, how they'll make their choice.

I'm with you, though. Bayrou's silence makes no sense. Unless he believes his not-endorsing Sarkozy 2 days before election day will make an actual difference v. not endorsing him earlier. I don't think Bayrou has a clear perception of how things are shaking up and how irrelevant he's becoming in such a polarized debate.
Essentially, Sarkozy's suceeded in creating a "republican front" against himself (or has he?) and he's betting more people are okay with Marine Le Pen than were in 2002.
However if I look at the numbers:
64% French people do not want anything to do with the FN
and 64% UMP are okay with the FN, ie., a majority of French people don't agree with what Sarkozy's been pulling and EVEN UMP-leaning voters are 1/3 repelled by the idea.

I'm thus thinking Sarkozy might try to woo the more moderate voters next week, hoping they'll "forgive" him for this week. And I'm willing to bet it won't work.

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Anonymous,

Thanks for the Le Monde link. Excellent article and an interesting blog (which I plan to revisit later).

I think we are basically in agreement. It is very confusing. It could be a real turning point for France: Reopening the debate over the FN's Vichy heritage and whether they should even be permitted as a party) and we will see also if the center and the right will join in opposing the FN as the left was willing to do in '02. Or the thing could just fizzle out if Sarkozy says "never mind---just joking!"

Personally, I am hoping for an open debate on the legitimacy of the FN. I think it's long overdue.

Cincinna said...

@ Mitch, the real issue in this election has nothing to do with MLP.

The French people have a clear choice, go the socialist route that has always failed throughout history or stick with Sarko and a center right government.

Hollande is allied and beholden to the extreme far left of Mélanchone, greens, Communists and other assorted mediate. There has never been a socialist government that has ever succeeded. They always fail.And the list is long: Zapatero brought Spain to the brink, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, China, etc

Socialism is a failed model. With the financial and social crises coming up, an inexperienced weak Hollande, forced to ally with the radical left would be a catastrophe fir France.