Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Montebourg Goes Off the Reservation

Arnaud Montebourg has become the first Socialist minister to openly criticize the politics of austerity embraced by the Hollande government. He thus joins the "restive" ranks of the PS, about whom I wrote earlier. With talk of a cabinet reshuffle circulating, it may be that Montebourg senses he is on the way out and wants to shape the commentary on his departure by bidding to become the leader of the internal opposition.

He is a natural for the post, having stood to Hollande's left since the primaries. But he is also an ambitious opportunist whose commitment to anti-austerity will likely be questioned strenuously by other dissidents. Still, this is yet another sign that within the Socialist Party and even within the government, things are beginning to move.

Le gouvernement a fait des efforts sans précédents pour faire face à la montagne himalayenne de dettes que le sarkozysme nous a léguée. Ces efforts, la Cour des comptes les a signalés, la Commission européenne les a soulignés. Mais le sérieux budgétaire, s'il tue la croissance, n'est plus sérieux. Il est absurde et dangereux. Il est donc plus que temps d'ouvrir le débat sur cette politique qui conduit l'Union à la débâcle.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it exactly what Krugman was saying though (cf. an earlier post of yours)? And as such, even if one may question Montebourg's ingenuity, shouldn't we think there's an ounce of truth in what he says, seeing how Krugman has no dog in that fight?

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Anonymous,

Yes, this is indeed what Krugman and many others (myself included) have been saying for quite some time. I can’t say that anyone in the anti-austerity camp is likely to be enthusiastic about Montebourg’s defection to our side given his dubious record which includes no actual successes on behalf of the French people but only an excess of oily self-promotion. I think Art puts his finger on the more important point of whether the move to the anti-austerity camp by one so supremely opportunistic is a harbinger or a misstep.

As for the Montebourg himself: It’s one thing if he’s been making this case for a time out of a genuine belief, getting nowhere and now feels so strongly about the issue that he breaks with his president as a matter of honor. It’s quite another if he simply feels the need to distance himself from Hollande’s disastrous presidency and chose anti-austerity as a means to that end.

A rat leaving a sinking ship may have made a correct determination about the ship’s future but he is still a rat.