Monday, March 31, 2014

The Greens Go Into Opposition

As expected, the reaction to the Valls nomination was quick:

Les écologistes Cécile Duflot et Pascal Canfin ne feront pas partie du gouvernement Valls

La nomination de Manuel Valls à Matignon n'est "pas la réponse adéquate aux problèmes des Français", estiment les ministres écologistes du logement et du développement dans un communiqué diffusé lundi. (AFP)


Mitch Guthman said...

Yes, the Greens have gone into opposition. And they've apparently taken the overwhelming majority of PS voters with them.

Are there really enough “centristes” ready to flock to Hollande’s standard to make up for the loss of the Greens and nearly all of the left? What's the point of being a government of "socialists of the right"?

Passerby said...

The Greens are apparently very divided. The Nouvels Obs has a piece stating that the elected greens in the assembly and senate largely vote in favor of joining the new Valls government (respectively 12 out of 15 and 9 out of 10). But the party leaders decided to ignore its elected representative to go on a personal vendetta against the PS.

Tough times ahead for the greens...

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Passerby,

I understand, and agree with, the reasoning of the Greens leadership. What would be the logic of the elected representatives in supporting the Valls government?

If current trends continue, wouldn't such support be tantamount to fighting against the tidal wave of popular discontent that's likely to finish the PS in the next legislative election? Also, why are they willing to support Valls, in particular, when he seems very strongly opposed to everything the Greens claim to represent?

I'm not making an argument so much as trying to understand why anyone would think sticking with Hollande is a politically smooth move right now. What am I missing?

Passerby said...

Well, it seems that the Greens leadership's stance is more motivated by a dislike of Valls than a real separation from a losing PS. Cécile Duflot said she would resign if Valls became Prime Minister, suggesting she wouldn't mind staying if it was someone else.

The representatives apparently supported the idea of getting the ministry of ecology in the new government (possibly a few of them hoped to get that seat).

If the party choose to refuse this offer, what will they gain?
They won't control their dreamed ministry and they are too small to really weight in the assembly. Sure they can be a thorn in the PS' side, but will they really vote against the PS, along with UMP & FN representatives?

I agree with you that the future doesn't look good for Hollande, but I'm not sure that turning against their main ally will do any good to the ecologists during the next elections. Especially if they splash their internal disputes in the newspapers.

Mitch Guthman said...


I'm not sure that I agree. In the first place, even if the environmental ministry were offered, would it be wise to accept? Sure, some lucky Green will get a glorious two years of being called “minister,” having a really great office to waste time and do nothing in and gets driven around in a flash car. Which is great for awhile. But the portents are that after those two years, that person and the Greens will be cast into the political abyss as the voters take their reprisals against everybody who’s got anything to do with Hollande’s government. So, is that really a good deal for the Greens? To me it seems like a bad, even Faustian bargain.

Frankly, the Greens are a rising party. A party with a future, unlike a certain other political party I could name. So, if I was interested in staying in politics at any level, I probably would want to put as much distance as humanly possible between me and the guy whose massive unpopularity pretty much just destroyed an entire political party in a single election. What do the Greens get for being in the government except grief and more grief?

Certainly sticking with Hollande isn't likely to endear them to the base of the Greens voters who tend to skew left, are likely to defect if they feel betrayed. Better to vote the way your party members want and get out of the way of what I predict will be a series of political massacres in the next two elections that will make last week look like a famous victory for the PS by comparison.

Yes, they might be voting with with the UMP and FN representatives but they'll also probably be voting with the Front de gauche, too. As to whether they want to vote against the PS: Why not, everyone else is?

The other thing is that I think the Greens leadership has got the right perspective on the price of poker. You know, in politics, you've got to give a little to get a little. You shouldn't be a pig. When Hollande was elected, the Greens asked for only very little and got even less—well, truthfully, they got bupkis. That might have been understandable when Hollande was riding high after the election but now that his presidency is basically swirling around the toilet bowl, I think the price for the Greens' support should reflect that changed reality.

At this juncture, a couple or three ministries with total freedom of action and no obligations past a single vote of no confidence, plus immediate and total support for the Greens most important policy initiative, doesn't seem like too much to ask for sticking their necks out. Anyway, that would be my ask if I were running the Greens and I'm not sure I'd take anything less.

Anonymous said...

@ Mitch: Duflot left because it amply suited her. She wants to focus on the EU parliamentary elections and thus using Valls as an excuse, was entirely convenient opportunism. Also the Greens won Grenoble:
"Grenoble, fief socialiste depuis 19 ans, passe aux Verts. L’écologiste Eric Piolle, 41 ans, liste EELV-Parti de gauche l’emporte nettement ce soir. Il bat donc le socialiste Jérôme Safar"
and have been doing the rounds of the radio stations saying they will focus on building wider support via the municipalities. Lastly Valls has no time for Greenery. He is supported by the engineers in charge of French nuclear power so expect no quarter on French energy security, as they judge it, from Valls.

Passerby said...

@Mitch: I personally do not share your vision of the Greens as the party of the future. In theory they should have benefited from growing ecological concerns among citizens and have the potential to attract younger voters.

But the party seems more focused on establishing itself at the left of the socialist party, than proposing a viable ecological transition plan. Add to this bitter internal disputes splashed all over the newspapers, and you have the receipt for failure.

A few Green candidates managed to grab a local mandate, often with the PS help, but the results from the last presidential election (2.31% of the votes) clearly showed that they are not perceived as a credible alternative and unable to connect with voters.

Time (and the next few elections) will tell if the Green party leadership's current strategy was right. But given that Cécile Duflot and the EELV leadership was already in charge in 2012. I doubt that they have suddenly become savvy political strategists.