Sunday, May 6, 2012

Socialists Celebrate in a California Living Room

Seven Percent Voted Blank

An historic record: 2 million blank votes. Do we interpret this as a true "neither of the above" vote or an indication of the strength of Marine Le Pen?

Hollande's Speech

I thought it was a bit of a cookie-cutter affair, snippets of an all-purpose acceptance speech with nothing of substance or style to recommend it. In short, a mirror of Hollande's campaign: workmanlike, low-risk, cautious, and just good enough.


31 years: a lifetime. I remember the election of François Mitterrand. I was a lot younger then and a lot less lucid about the challenges that face a newly elected president. For me it was an exciting moment in May 1981, the first and until today the only right-left alternance in the history of the Fifth Republic. The enthusiasm was great, and in my naiveté I thought that enthusiasm could accomplish a great deal.

This time, there is far much less enthusiasm about the victory, but the challenges are even greater than they were in 1981. Europe is facing an unprecedented crisis, and the newly elected president will be at the mercy of events. He will have to contend with other heads of state who do not share his vision of the world. And he will be tested, immediately by the markets, eventually by the unions and others who expect changes that he never promised and cannot deliver.

As for Sarkozy, his departure speech, which he is delivering as I write, is dignified and correct. I never shared the visceral hatred that many in France felt toward him, and I am glad that his manner of leaving office suggests that the pugnacious character he often chose to portray is not, as I always believed, the only Sarkozy but rather a persona that he believed, rightly or wrongly, to be politically effective.

Ministerial Choices

Whom will Hollande choose as prime minister? France2 seemed almost to be pushing Jean-Marc Ayrault, who would be a plausible choice if Hollande wants to emulate Sarkozy and act as his own prime minister. Ayrault is self-effacing, competent, and not ambitious, as far as I know, to become president himself. Friction would be less likely than with Aubry. Other possibilities include Fabius, Moscovici, and Valls, who shared the platform with Ayrault.

Hollande 51.9!

I'm pretty proud of my predictions: 52-48, 79% participation, and the 8PM count is 51.9-48.1 with 79.9% participation.

Participation 79.9% IPSOS estimate

If this estimate holds, I was pretty close at 79%!

Participation at 5PM

71.96%, on track to beat first-round participation.

Good Afternoon, France

It's morning in America, and even earlier morning in California, where I am at the moment, but in France we're nearing the end of election day: less than 4 hours to go. Turnout at midday appears to be a bit ahead of round 1 (bad for my prediction) but a bit behind where it was in 2007. According to #RadioLondres, which is still getting out the news on Twitter with imaginative (and perhaps imaginary) reports, the Gouda is ripe. But I see no point in speculating about the final result, since even the computers at France2, working with real numbers, didn't get the results quite right on round 1 for several hours. So I sit here in foggy La Jolla and wait patiently, albeit not altogether comfortably, since your intrepid blogger, normally an iron man, seems somehow to have injured his back in his travels. I am therefore somewhat uncomfortable in my usual typing position and will blog today only as the spirit moves and the flesh allows. À bientôt.