Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Valls to Cazeneuve

Bernard Cazeneuve is the new prime minister. The volume at Matignon will be dialed down from 12 to 6 or 7, but security policy will become no less firm. Otherwise the governmental changes appear to be cosmetic. The phrase "shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic" is not only a cliché but also too kind to what remains of Hollandia, because the Titanic had survivors, while the good ship Hollande will sink without a trace.

Unless, of course, Manuel Valls pulls off a miracle and somehow arrives at the Elysée. Current polls rate his chances as slim to none. He is running behind both Macron and Mélenchon. Of course he hasn't yet begun whatever strategy he has in mind to separate himself from the president and project a vision of Vallsism different from that of Hollandism, so he is still saddled with all the baggage of the ancien régime. But it's hard to see how he can possibly shed this baggage. It must be galling to Valls to see Macron, who should be sandbagged by the same set of policies, leap out ahead with his winning smile and softshoe routine. But that, for now, is the reality. Polling at this stage (and perhaps right up to the end) is to be viewed warily, however.

Still, in the end, no poll has any of the "left" candidates getting anywhere close to the second round as long as the three principals remain in the race, so it's all moot, except perhaps in positioning for 2022.