Thursday, August 7, 2014

France to Support Kurds against IS

Looks like France will be the first country to support the Kurds in combating the self-declared Islamic State. Hollande can't do anything at home; might as well go abroad. Cynicism aside, I'm glad someone's coming to the defense of the Kurds.

The Conseil Constitutionnel and the Pacte de Responsabilité

François Hollande managed to impose his Pacte de Responsabilité on a recalcitrant majority but apparently not on the Conseil Constitutionnel, which, while approving the cut in corporate social charges, rejected the accompanying reduction in social charges on lower-paid employees, which was supposed to sweeten the bitter pill. The CC argues that the skewing of rates to favor less well-off workers violates "the principle of equality," although one might equally well argue that it was intended to support that principle. But the law is as the law does, and the government must now live with the CC's obtuse interpretation of equality, which is likely to make a measure already unpopular (to put it mildly) with its electoral base even more repellent.

The Responsibility Pact makes a certain amount of economic sense, even if one can argue about its likely effectiveness. But the government must now find another sweetener for its package or risk even further erosion of its support.

Sarkozy Woos New Allies

Nicolas Sarkozy has reportedly concluded that he needs new allies if he is to succeed in his effort to reclaim the UMP. The old guard--Balkany, Morano, Hortefeux--no longer suffices. And former key lieutenants such as Patrick Buisson and Claude Guéant have become taboo. So he is allegedly wooing ambitious younger politicians such as Laurent Wauquiez and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet in addition the denizens of la Droite forte, who have been only too eager to support him.

The conjunction of the names Wauquiez and NKM is interesting, in that the two had seemed to take opposite tacks in response to Sarkozy's attempted droitisation of the party in the run-up to 2012. Wauquiez appeared to embrace the more xenophobic line, while NKM forthrightly attacked the Front National. But both are smart and ambitious and calculating, so they know that they need to attract some of Sarkozy's rank-and-file support if they wish to position themselves as future présidentiables.

Of course, being wooed is not the same thing as getting married, and precisely because Wauquiez and NKM are smart, they're likely to play one suitor off against another. It's interesting that the name of Bruno Le Maire does not appear in the Le Monde article. He's part of the same group of ambitious wannabes. Perhaps he's already pushed too far in touting his own candidacy for the party leadership, so that Sarkozy views him as a rival rather than an ally, while LW and NKM are prepared to back Sarkozy as a maneuver to outflank Le Maire. The UMP contest is interesting from a purely tactical point of view, if nevertheless quite disappointing with respect to any actual new thinking about issues. But one takes one's entertainment where one finds it.