Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fillon Waters His Wine

This was predictable: François Fillon has moderated the assault on health insurance that figured so prominently in his primary campaign.

Elu à la primaire sur un projet de « rupture radicale », M. Fillon a été contraint d’adoucir son discours pour tenter de ne pas effrayer les classes moyennes et populaires. « On ne tient pas le même discours aux électeurs de droite et à l’ensemble des Français », justifie son entourage, en ne voulant surtout pas entendre parler de « reculade ». « Il clarifie », explique un proche. « Il fait de la pédagogie », selon un autre.
"Pedagogy" is a euphemism for flip-flopping, but flip-flopping has a long pedigree in French presidential politicking, where the trick is to unify one's own party by throwing red meat to the base before tacking back to the center to pick up "the median voter," as political scientists like to say. Fillon seems to have wasted no time in adjusting his course and will likely pull off the maneuver without shedding too much support from the base, which has nowhere to go but far right, where Marine Le Pen offers no solace if what they are looking for is a reduction of medical benefits for the "undeserving." 

Le Monde describes the maneuver in these delicate terms:
Pas question d’accréditer l’idée que le candidat de la « vérité » et du « courage » se serait finalement résolu à affadir son « projet de redressement » à tonalité libérale et aux accents thatchériens assumés. Mais, entre la crainte de décevoir une partie de ses électeurs de la primaire, en quête d’une ardeur réformatrice à toute épreuve, et le risque de se mettre à dos une majorité de Français, le candidat a opté pour le moindre mal.


Anonymous said...

I suppose I'm curious about the expectations of these hard-core Fillon voters who supposedly endorse his "Thatcherite" platform. My recollection of living in France is that quality of life matters A LOT in that country, regardless of one's political affiliation. With the state playing such a large role in protecting quality of life through generous leave policies, subsidies and other benefits, how exactly do right-wing voters see the future? Do they expect to keep the gravy boat going even with half-a-million fewer civil servants? Or are they fully prepared for the good times to end?


Anonymous said...

Or... are they like the Trump voters the NYT met in Kentucky who said "He wouldn't take away my health insurance, right?"

Bernard said...

Fillon won his primary running a first round campaign against Juppe who ran a second round campaign. Is he now running a second round campaign? There are still two rounds in the presidential last I heard.