Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cohn-Bendit: La primaire à gauche est foutue

I happened to be in Paris when the idea of a "primary of all the left" was launched, so I know that it created quite a buzz--but I never quite believed in it. Now Daniel Cohn-Bendit confirms my understanding of why it would never work: Quite simply, the various components of the Left hate each other more than they want to win an election, especially if there is the slightest possibility of being obliged to coalesce around François Hollande, who has become the bête noire of everyone except his own inner circle. As long as the price of entering a left primary is a pledge to support the eventual winner, even if it is Hollande, it's a non-starter. Meanwhile, the remaining Hollandais refuse to commit their man to participate in the primary if he decides to run.

The only way out would be an early withdrawal by Hollande, which doesn't seem to be under consideration, even though it's hard to see how he thinks he can possibly win. Cohn-Bendit considers a deux ex machina in the form of Nicolas Hulot, but Hulot's is not a candidacy I can believe in. So at this point the Left looks certain to be headed for utter fragmentation in the first round, leading to a total rout, with the Socialist Party reduced to historic post-Epinay lows. This will mark the definitive liquidation of the Mitterrand era and a complete recomposition of the French party system.


brent said...

Sorry--this appeared under the later post by mistake.

I notice Cohn-Bendit doesn't utter the name 'Mélenchon', and neither do you. In fact nobody seems to want to talk about this difficult, truculent man. But 1) he was the gauche de la gauche candidate in 2012, and a relatively successful one (11%); 2) he is already a candidate for 2017, though without a Parti or Front de gauche to support him; 3) he still polls around 10%, I believe, which isn't far below Hollande's typical score; and 4) he is utterly, absolutely opposed to any left primary that would include Hollande.

These facts, if they remain true, would suggest not just the hopelessness of a meaningful left primary, but of any left candidate making the second round. Maybe JLM is a has-been whose support will soon evaporate--but that needs to be demonstrated, not just hoped for. In any case it might be smart for 'players' like Cohn-Bendit to talk about JLM, and even talk TO him if possible. His complete absence from the discussion so far isn't really advancing the cause. And--I would argue--his considerable gifts, which were broadly displayed in the 2012 campaign, ought not to be disowned just because neither the other players nor the commentariat like him.

ZI said...

As far as Hollande is concerned, I think his bet is obvious, his last hope is the FN. The right is hardly in a better position.

TexExile said...

If DCB envisages Hulot as a "deux ex machina", who will be the other half of the sketch? Perhaps he meant a "dux ex machina"? The PS could use a leader, after all. It's been well over a decade since it had one.