Tuesday, June 20, 2017

La moralisation moralisée

Richard Ferrand, secretary-general of REM and right hand of Emmanuel Macron, has been gently evicted from the government and shunted off to the National Assembly, where he is supposed to lead the REM group--unless, of course, he is indicted. Sylvie Goulard has excluded herself from the new Philippe government in order to prove her "good faith" in the affair of the MoDem parliamentary assistants--which the party leader and justice minister, François Bayrou, says isn't an affair at all, while describing Goulard's decision as "strictly personal." If there is as yet no smoking gun, there is plenty of smoke.

Bayrou, of course, was supposed to lead the effort to "moralize" government and restore public confidence--an effort he imposed on Macron as a condition of his support. Now, however, he seems to personify the problem. His reactions since the eruption of charges has been tone-deaf, not to say obtuse. He seems as clueless as Fillon.

And the atmospherics are not good for Macron and Philippe, whose flawless rollout has been compromised by the gathering clouds, may be on the verge of taking off into a maelstrom. The fresh face Macron put on government is in danger of looking a lot like the same old same old. And François Fillon must be wondering how things would have looked if the various improprieties that have lately come to light, including his own, had been revealed in a different order. A true Cleopatra's nose moment in French politics.


Lapinot said...

I really object to the idea of falling on your sword so as to prove your good faith. Unless the allegations have made your work impossible it's surely the moral thing to maintain your position - anything else is to give support to curtain twitchers at every level of life.

bert said...

It would be less of a problem without the public claim to purity. I've no doubt that Macron wants to run a clean administration, for all the right reasons. Mais en même temps there is a political benefit to being the anti-sleaze candidate. As with much else in life, where there is a benefit, there is a corresponding cost.
Fillon found that out, after using his supposed purity to wrongfoot his rivals in the primary.

Anonymous said...

In any case, now that Ferrand is at the assembly, he can't be indicted since elected officials have immunity :)
Two birds one stone, Macron is a mastermind.

mpz13 said...

@anony(myos) Ferrand can be indicted, his parliamentary immunity can be lifted, and would no doubt be lifted if he is indicted as was the case recently with charming socialist Sylvie Andrieux among other birds.
But you are right, Macron has read Le Prince. I am pretty sure he had also read Corinne Lepage's book about the Modem and he knew all about the twisted deals among Bayrou & friends. I expect there won't be too many Modem ministres in the next government and I wouldn't be surprised to see Bayrou soon at the head of the Modem group in the Assemblée Nationale rather then place Vendôme.

Robinson said...

So long as the stink comes mostly from the MoDem, I bet that this problem will be contained. As for poor Fillion: his best defense was always "everybody does it, why pick on me!" (I didn't follow the matter closely enough but some of the moves that the judiciary took to speed the Fillion case also seemed slightly fishy.) He lost the right to any sympathy because of all the time he spent attacking the honesty of other politicians. This is the trap that Bayrou has landed in as well: his sermonizing hypocrisy is even more blatant that Fillion's.

If - *if* - the Ferrand affair leads to more legal trouble in REM itself, then as Art says Macron himself will be tarnished.

Anonymous said...

I know Bayrou and his family slightly, because I come from the same part of France and some relatives of mine have had business dealing with him. They have always made the best impression on me, and I am not to terribly bothered by the allegations against the various MoDem personalities. This sort of low-level "corruption" (if the word even applies) bears no comparison to the florid excesses of Trump or Berlusconi or even of Fillion or the late sainted Helmut Kohl. The people who try to stamp it out too officiously are often hypocrites themselves. I fear that this is Bayrou's problem: he knows that his is more honest than the vast majority of French politicians. So he has chosen to insist upon an overly exacting standard that will deeply damage himself and his own movement while it leaves the worst offenders in place. (It is similar to Fillion's hypocrisy problem, but the accusations against Fillion had greater weight.)

As Robinson suggests above, the great question is: will LREM itself get in trouble for corruption? I have no doubt that many LREM-ers are as vulnerable as Bayrou to the charge of trivial corruption (as, no doubt, are many communists, FI-ists, supporters of Dupont-Aignan...). The LREM-ers are moderate socialists, more or less, and I expect that they are about as honest as Hollande's folk. That is: not as honest as Swedes, but mostly OK with a few bad apples. Will they get in trouble? I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

I would add to the post above (written by my partner, who has more time for Macron than I do) - a serious corruption scandal would badly cripple the new president. Ferrand can be dismissed as a one-off and the MoDem as external to Macron's movement. But who really believes Ferrand is a one-off? And Macron seems to be betting everything on the next eight months. If Macron's labour reforms fail because of investigations, he will have become a laughingstock as quickly as Theresa May has.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing to add to the comment above, except to wish Macron luck and hope that Art Goldhammer will tolerate the two of us using this blog as a spot for spousal bickering about French politics in English. There are more exciting kinks, but are there stranger ones?