Friday, April 26, 2013

Harlem Désir Is Failing as Socialist Party Chief

According to Le Monde.

Socialist Party Agitation Widens

After Claude Bartolone's statement of opposition to austerity and hostility to Germany, on which I reported the other day, we now have Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, vice-president of the European Socialist Party and deputy for Paris, coordinating a statement by the French PS attacking "the selfish intransigence of Chancellor Merkel." What's more, we are told by Le Monde that this statement has been "tacitly approved by the government."

My friend and colleague Gérard Grunberg sees this as a sign that Hollande is "losing control" of his party, in which a resurgent left-wing is about to replace his prudent go-along-to-get-along strategy with one of open "democratic confrontation" with Germany, to use Cambadélis's phrase. I don't agree with Gérard. I believe that a cleavage has opened up in the party, but not because of nostalgia for an earlier era when Cambadélis was a Trotskyist militant and Grunberg was a Rocardian. More recently, however, Cambadélis was a stalwart in the DSK faction of the party. To be sure, he is a political judoka, not an economic theorist, but it doesn't take a strategist of genius to anticipate the political disaster in store for the PS if it doesn't change course. Gérard attributes the rapidly evolving dissidence to "panic" within party ranks, but I prefer to see "realism." And it's hard to square the notion of a panicky party abandoning a resolute government with the suggestion that the government has "tacitly approved" the insurrection.

Indeed, the danger I see is that the government may be trying to have it both ways, encouraging a Potemkin dissidence while privately assuring Frau Merkel, qui en a vu d'autres, that it remains on board with austerity and is holding a steady course. Remember, Hollande's mentor was Mitterrand le Florentin. This is not the moment for small-bore Machiavellianism, however. The time has come for bold action.

But not this bold: Mélenchon says all will be right if he is named prime minister. It is amusing, however, to watch him fence with Jacques Attali.