Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The UMP Leadership Fight

The Fillon forces are girding their loins for battle. Philippe Goujon, a deputy and mayor of the XVe Arrdt. of Paris, has launched an "Appeal of the 144" to unseat Copé. I don't expect much intellectual enlightenment from this battle between two cults of personality. What will be interesting will be how the winner deals with the losers. And how the Sarkozy loyalists are treated. Most UMP sympathizers still prefer Sarkozy to either of the two prime contenders to replace him, according to one recent poll. Whoever wins will face a formidable task of party rebuilding and ideological reorientation.

La Rentrée

It's been a dull summer, but September promises to be an active month politically speaking. There will be elections in the Netherlands on Sept. 12, and the Socialist Party there is expected to do well:

Party leader Emile Roemer is staunchly anti-austerity (and a good deal to the left of Hollande):
Economic policy can [not] and must not be reduced to a set of rules which prescribe debt reduction.

Thirteen of the 17 eurozone countries are above the three percent deficit. Who is going tell who what to do? Come on, let’s use our minds and not become too obsessed with the agreed numbers…Rules are good, but we have to adjust to the realities of the moment. I am sure I’ll get broad support in Europe for this.
Such a shift in policy in a northern core economy could significantly affect the balance of power in the EU. On the same day, Sept. 12, the German Constitutional Court will rule on the legality of the European Stability Mechanism. These two events will have great significance for the future of French policy, but there isn't much that Hollande can do about either of them. His responses to both will be interesting to watch, however.

Hortefeux Steps on His Tongue

Brice Hortefeux, criticizing the Socialist government yesterday, recalled that there had been no urban riots under Sarkozy. Unfortunately, he forgot a few notable incidents, such as the two-day armed uprising at Villiers-le-Bel. What's even more surprising is that he was interior minister during a number of these events, responsible for the police response. Amazing what political bias can do to memory. Or perhaps Brice is just exhibiting signs of dementia praecox.