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CHIRAC, SARKOZY The French Right prepares for presidentials

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Wed 17 Jan, 2007 03:58 pm
In France, the opposite number of the hip, modernising Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal was elected officially by his party's "militants" last Sunday. The "Union of the Presidential Majority" (UMP), the Gaullist party of President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, will run Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

He was elected in a ballot of the party's members: 69% of them took part in the election, live or through the internet, and 98% - or a full 229,303 of them - chose Sarkozy.

The interesting thing is that Sarkozy represents something of an 'internal opposition' against the President and Prime Minister within the party. The dividing lines between his camp and theirs are multiple and not all equally transparent. What is sure is that the grassroots activists overwhelmingly support Sarkozy, who runs neck-and-neck with Royal in the polls, while both de Villepin and Chirac are very unpopular in the country, and not much more so in their own party. When pollsters ask people whom they'd vote for in the Presidentials and list both de Villepin and Sarkozy, Sarkozy tends to get two to three times as much support.

The dividing lines within the mainstream rightwing, post-Gaullist majority are both substantive and stylistic.

Chirac and de Villepin represent a traditionalist, statist brand of politics, in which the government maintains a strong hold, national glory tends to override economic efficiency, and France steers a profiled independent role in international politics. Sarkozy on the other hand presents himself as the representative of a new style of modernist, reformist politics, directed more clearly by the recipes of free market ideology, and more Atlanticist in orientation.

Chirac and de Villepin represent a consensual, but also centralist style of politics, in which social problems are abstractified and eventually, a solution is directed from the top down that wont offend all too many. Sarkozy, who boasts a well-known track record of tackling crime hands-on as minister, is often accused of being a populist, and encouraging "gut instinct" perceptions of law and order.

On the other hand, Chirac and de Villepin are creatures of a supremely elite background, education and long-term political and government career. Their attitude towards the violent troubles in the poor, migrant-inhabited suburbs, for example, may only be less confrontative because those are simply too far from their bed to be at the front of their mind. Sarkozy, on the other hand, whose father was a Hungarian immigrant and whose mother was the daughter of Sephardic Jews, makes the impression of having his finger on the pulse.

He has hardly followed some consistent rabble-rousing rightwing course, either. While the elites, sound in ideological failty to the state's founding principles, insist on the sacred concepts of the Republic, which allow for no distinction amongst ethnic or cultural groups and no recognition of religion in the public, political domain, Sarkozy favours affirmative action for minority groups.

The seeming contrast between street-style and elite-style has been underlined by the corruption affairs that have long trailed Chirac and his allies, and a protracted scandal which suggested that de Villepin or his allies had covertly spread a (false) assertion about Sarkozy's financial affairs.

Hands-on versus lofty, modernist versus traditional, combative versus consensual, street versus elite, mix-and-match versus ideological failty, populist versus byzantine - all of these political and stylistic elements pit Sarkozy and Chirac/de Villepin against each other. Sarkozy, well aware of the outsider's appeal amongst the rank and file, has consciously cultivated his rebel, challenger image. Supporters of Chirac and de Villepin have long tried to shape a horrified TSS ("tout sauf Sarkozy", or Anyone But Sarkozy) camp in the party. Feelings have been inflamed, resentments have been stoked. There is no lack of personal dimensions to the rivalries of ambitions within the government and executive branch.

Even last weekend, when the vote was held, de Villepin declared that he would not vote, and refused to confirm until the last minute that he would even attend the Congress where the winner would officially be announced. Chirac meanwhile has so far not excluded making a surprise run for another term as president himself. But the vote was a massive endorsement for Sarkozy, and de Villepin was left to plead that Sarkozy "recognize" the "diversities" and "temperaments" in the party, and abandon any "reductionist logic".

Now Sarkozy will meet the challenge of facing down his Socialist rival, Segolene Royal. The race will be exciting because the two have been roughly tied in the polls for a long time now, but also because in many ways, Royal really is Sarkozy's counterpart.

Royal, too, has challenged her party's long-standing, traditionalist, insider leaders, a collection of men with egos to match their nickname, "the elephants". She, too, has profiled herself as a moderniser, who will be more eager to lend and learn from the English or even (hush) the Americans, and who will tackle the reform (read: market liberalisation) of the economy. And she, too, has carefully cultivated an outsider image, clamorously basing her run for her party's presidential nomination, which she won in November, on an Internet campaign among 'ordinary members'. Following a Howard Dean model, she succesfully encouraged the grassroots and rank-and-file to get involved, building a momentum of public appeal that forced the cabal of 'elephants' to grumblingly give way.

Then there are the various wildcards in the game. In the first round of French presidential elections, the candidates of the two main parties tend to pool only about half the vote. Last time round, in 2002, they got just 36%. The rest of the vote was fanned out across the political spectre.

The far right National Front's candidate, Jean-Marie Le Pen, got 17% and shocked all by actually beating the Socialist into third place and going on to the second round. The Communist candidate got a record low of just 4% of the vote, but three Trotskyite candidates pooled a perplexing 10,4%. A Green candidate and a Republican-Socialist candidate both got over 5%. Two centrist candidates got 7% and 4%. The candidate for "Hunt, Fish, Nature, Traditions" got 4%. The result was positively chaotic.

Of course, that year, two lacklustre candidates (Chirac and Jospin) stood for the main parties, This time round, one can expect "Sego and Sarko" to be far more succesful in rallying the troops. The outcome of the elections will largely depend on who is the more succesful in courting all those third-, fourth- and twentyninth-party voters. Divisions within the UMP, if they persist, could cost Sarkozy crucial ground.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 4 • Views: 20,365 • Replies: 417
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nimh
 
  2  
Reply Wed 17 Jan, 2007 04:02 pm
Ooh, that was long. Not a copy/paste though, for better or worse it's all just my own summary of things.

Hoping Walter, Francis c.s. will show up to provide alternate takes..
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jan, 2007 04:22 pm
Re: CHIRAC, SARKOZY The French Right prepares for presidenti
nimh wrote:

Of course, that year, two lacklustre candidates (Chirac and Jospin) stood for the main parties, This time round, one can expect "Sego and Sarko" to be far more succesful in rallying the troops. The outcome of the elections will largely depend on who is the more succesful in courting all those third-, fourth- and twentyninth-party voters. Divisions within the UMP, if they persist, could cost Sarkozy crucial ground.


I agree here (and with the previous as well).

Recent polls have shown that a majority of French fear a president Sarkozy.

Thus, he'll become even more smooth and friendly than he already did. (He even showed a kind of emotion, when he was elected last weekend.)

I suppose, we really won't be able to predict anything before the first is over - and might get a surprising result like the time.

I wonder, if the "cop-Sarko-image" will diminish enough within the next couple of weeks to get the centrist voters on his side.

I wonder as well if the conservative left will stand behind Royale.


I suppose, we will have to wait until the results of the first round are out ...
0 Replies
 
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jan, 2007 06:52 pm
Okay. I am just bookmarking here and trying to learn the cast of characters.
I thought Chirac was dead. Well, not in the physical sense, but with all of the corruption allegations going back a long time, I wonder how he has managed to survive politically?

(ps to Nimh: My gothguy Andy thanks you for your comments about Kosovo in the Spring. Right now it is looking like it may happen in early April but a number of things have to fall into place.)
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jan, 2007 07:02 pm
Checking in to follow along. (I picked Sego, but I'm not a french voter.)
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jan, 2007 07:03 pm
Quote:
I suppose, we will have to wait until the results of the first round are out ...

... And that'll be less than 100 days from now ;-)

The public broadcaster TF1's hour-by-hour account of the UMP congress gives some unmistakeable hints at the degree to which Sarkozy will stand for the incumbent party - but against the incumbent 'regime'.

Sarkozy expressed the wish to unite and bridge the camps, but other speakers left no doubt that they expected him to bring a sharp break with the past.

(The account is also an amusing peek into the rhetorical style of another country's politics ;-))

(My translation)

Quote:
[..] - close to 10:30. Nicolas Sarkozy speaks to the congress a first time, appealing to the gathered activists ('militants') to welcome all who will come this day - an unveiled allusion to Dominique de Villepin. "We are a big family (...) Sectarism is for the others" [..].

- 11:00. Nicolas Sarkozy welcomes Dominique de Villepin. Chants can be heard: some are calling out, "Dominique, Dominique", while others launch into "Villepin-Sarkozy". The Prime Minister stays only half an hour before leaving again.

- 11:05. On the stage, the speeches continue. Michel Barnier, former Foreign Minister, sketches a portrait of the "captain" that France needs. Because "the challenges are there. As of May 7 in the morning, they will need to be confronted (...) Our country can not afford to elect a President who remains silent or who waits."

- 11:12. Pierre Lellouche, UMP deputy from Paris, says he is "proud to be here, as 'militant' amidst 50.000 'militants'". [..]

- 11:20. Gérard Longuet speaks: the presidential election, he submits, will be the moment to "switch France onto" what is "the crucial road" today, "to the camp of victorious nations". [..]

- 12:35. François Fillon assures: "Nicolas Sarkozy is the man of the situation". Why? Because "for the first time in our history, our party will be represented by a man who doesn't have accounts to settle with the past" and who is "turned towards the future". [..]

- 1:35. The last one to speak before Nicolas Sarkozy, Alain Juppé pleads for a "a new breath" that will make it possible to "find the road to a stronger growth that will create jobs and buying power". He warns: "if we don't do anything, we are heading for collective suicide", and appeals to everybody to engage themselves with Nicolas Sarkozy in the "battle for France". [..]

- 1:50. Nicolas Sarkozy appears on the stage. "Today, I know it, I do not have the right to deceive you, I do not have the right to hesitate, I have to win". [..]


Le congrès UMP, heure par heure
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jan, 2007 07:28 pm
realjohnboy wrote:
I thought Chirac was dead. Well, not in the physical sense.

Far as I can tell, he pretty much is, politically speaking. These veiled threats that he's still making up his mind whether he might not want to stand himself sound rather empty, considering how low his popularity ratings are. It'd turn into a humiliation for him, as he would be soundly defeated on the right by Sarkozy.

But, in a hypothetical run, he'd snatch just enough Gaullist votes from Sarkozy to give the victory to the Socialist candidate, Segolene Royal. And there you have what looks like the only rationale behind this posturing: he might be too politically dead to achieve much himself anymore, but he has just about enough strength to still damage his intra-party nemesis, Sarkozy. So I guess it's more of a blackmail strategy, in order to.. what? Keep Sarkozy enough at risk to prevent him from getting too cheeky? Force him to involve (and if he wins, appoint) Chirac/Villepin allies? Something like that..

Re Kosovo (apologies to the others for the digression) it isnt even, at the moment, on the US State Department's "Current Travel Warnings" page, unlike Bosnia. But that's probably a good page to check up with by the time he might be going (note that any listing will be under "Serbia", not as "Kosovo"). You might want to forward him the current Consular Information Sheet on Serbia, at least the bottom part, which is about Kosovo. Basically, they say:

Quote:
In March 2004, Kosovo experienced three days of widespread inter-ethnic violence, including several incidents in the capital of Pristina. [..] Since those riots, there has been no resumption of serious violence, although the atmosphere remains tense particularly with the start of U.N.-led status talks in 2006. [..]

Americans should avoid demonstrations and other sites, such as roadblocks, where large crowds are gathered, particularly those involving political/ethnic causes or striking workers.

High unemployment and other economic factors have encouraged criminal activity. While de-mining programs have proven effective, unexploded ordnance and mines remain in some areas. [..] Street crimes, in particular theft and purse snatching, are serious problems in Kosovo, especially Pristina. Foreigners are targets for crime, as they are assumed to carry cash.

Pretty much duh-stuff. The way it is now, it's basically like any poor country, so stick to the obvious security precautions, and thats about it for now, pending political developments. And if you wanna be safe, stay away from any political events - though I wouldnt ... (their sheet on Hungary also says to "avoid areas in which public demonstrations are taking place", to which I say - f*ck that! Razz ).
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Jan, 2007 01:51 am
While all (possible) cnadidates are in the spotlight of the French media re their personal tax - but especially Royal/Hollande ...

http://i11.tinypic.com/3340whs.jpg

http://i12.tinypic.com/2mnq6at.jpg

... here's a reprot by The Independent on madame Royal and the Socialist Party.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Jan, 2007 05:53 am
Then there was the story last week about Segolene Royal praising the Chinese judicial system for being more efficient and swift than the French system with its delays ...

In light of the many Chinese political prisoners, the summary 'justice' doled out there, and the fact that China executes more people per year than pretty much all the rest of the world put together, not the most felicitous remark..
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Feb, 2007 03:10 am
Latest polls (from today's Parisien, page 2):

http://i15.tinypic.com/43w6pvo.jpg

http://i9.tinypic.com/4ify4n4.jpg
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Mar, 2007 04:55 pm
In a move widely interpreted as an attempt to woo some of Jean-Marie Le Pen's voters, Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the creation of a ministry for immigration and national identity.

Sarkozy's cabinet colleague, Equal Opportunity Minister Azouz Begag, called the proposal "indecent" and announced his support for Bayrou.

(Source: Fringe Parties Could Swing France's Race For President)
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Mar, 2007 05:36 pm
I agree that history has demonstrated that there is ample potential for surprise combinations of segments of the electorate, particularly given the two-stage character of the process. However, based on presently available evidence, my bet would be on an ultimate Sarkozy victory.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Mar, 2007 05:41 pm
I posted a wildly popular thread on Bayrou HERE - I'd forgotten about this one.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Mar, 2007 05:48 pm
Interesting. I agree he could have great appeal for those fustrated with the major parties and familiar faces. Hard to tell what may unfold, and I certainly don't have any particular insights with which to discriminate among the several possibilities. Mostly I am persuaded by the larger and more coherent (or concentrated) support for the candidates of the right as indicated in the poll data.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Mar, 2007 03:57 pm
http://i10.tinypic.com/4bz48ds.jpg

... says The Observer.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Mar, 2007 12:55 am
Link to the above mentioned report in the Obsever.


The results of the polls, as printed in today's Le Journal du Dimanche (page 3) don't show dramatic shifts ...


http://i13.tinypic.com/2v2dtg2.jpg
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Mar, 2007 01:05 am
Molto interessante.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Mar, 2007 12:42 pm
Meanwhile, Sarkozy has stepped down as France's interior minister to focus on his presidential candidacy.
0 Replies
 
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Mar, 2007 04:59 pm
Sarkozy @ 25%; Royal @ 24%; Bayrou @ 22%, LePen @ 14%

French Candidates Court Suburban Youth (NPR's Morning Edition 3/26 reported by Eleanor Beardsley in Paris)...

I just re-listened to this story. I am writing from notes I took, which could be wrong. Anyway, the jist of the story is that registration to vote amongst "French born children of African immigrants" is up 300%. How many new voters that might be was not quantified.
French radio stations and recording artists popular to those folks are leading the effort.
Mr Sarkozy, who was Interior Minister during last year's riots, referred to the folks involved as "scum." Or did he imply that immigrants in general were scum? Mr LePen is perceived as a racist as I understand it by many of the unemployed.
Yet I hear that one of Mr LePen's campaign posters includes a multi-racial group of folks standing in the background. I may be wrong about that.

Anyway, the final few moments of the story included comments from some of the young people enduring 9% unemployment in one area:
-for the first time, I feel French.-
-we are empowered. Not by breaking things but by getting into the inside.

I've used up all my notes so I must be done. If this story is true, it strikes me as a significant trend, not only in France but in other places in Europe, Australia and the United States. The influence of young voters, who bring with them a high degree of cynicism about "politics as usual" is going to change things a lot. Good evening - rjb
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Mar, 2007 07:01 pm
This is interesting.. despite the age of Internet, big money campaigns and citizen media, the French elections have seen an upsurge for the good old-fashioned public rally. Turnout for public meetings and speeches has doubled or tripled compared to the last elections, with not just the party faithful, but undecided voters turning up as well to hear the candidates speak for themselves.

Quote:
Internet n'a pas tué les bons vieux meetings

Le Figaro
27 mars 2007

Quel que soit le candidat, les réunions publiques connaissent une affluence record. Une surprise qui incite les partis à revoir les modalités de la campagne.

RENNES, le 20 février. La campagne bat son plein, et Ségolène Royal se prépare à tenir un meeting. Ayant loué le parc des expositions, les organisateurs du PS tablent sur 7 000 participants. Mais deux heures avant l'arrivée de la candidate, un autre hall est partiellement ouvert, qui accueille 3 000 autres personnes. Un écran géant est ajouté, par précaution, dehors : 1 000 sympathisants s'y massent sous la pluie. [..]

« Le préfet de région m'apprend que 40 cars de militants sont bloqués sur la rocade voisine. Il n'y a plus une place On ne sait pas quoi faire. [..] », raconte Pascal Popelin, premier secrétaire de la fédération de Seine-Saint-Denis et responsable de l'organisation des meetings pour Ségolène Royal.

Les meetings, phénomène de la campagne ? Après la présidentielle de 2002, il était pourtant de bon ton de les brocarder : trop chers, trop ennuyeux, pas assez « participatifs ». À l'heure de l'explosion d'Internet, plus d'un misait sur une campagne vue de chez soi, loin des Zénith et autre Palais des congrès. Mais cinq ans plus tard, le bon vieux meeting s'est vu confirmé comme une figure classique, un passage obligé, qui plus est très prisé des électeurs. [..]

Bien sûr, on est loin des performances d'un Jacques Chirac, qui, en 1978, avait rassemblé 100 000 personnes porte de Pantin ou d'un François Mitterrand clôturant chacune de ses campagnes devant 40 000 personnes à Toulouse. Mais quel que soit le parti, l'orateur, le lieu, là où l'on escomptait 200 personnes, il en vient le double, là où l'on tablait sur 5 000 participants, on en accueille finalement 3 000 de plus.

«Consuméristes en politique»

Porte de Versailles, à Paris, le 14 janvier : Nicolas Sarkozy se présente devant les militants UMP pour être investi à la candidature. [..] Au moins 50 000 personnes s'y pressent. Le meeting est un énorme barnum et signe la marque de fabrique de la présidentielle de 2007.

Depuis que François Bayrou a rejoint le carré de tête des candidats, il connaît lui aussi l'affluence. À Annecy, le 4 janvier, le candidat rassemble 4 000 personnes Bordeaux, le 7 février, 6 000. Là encore, il faut s'adapter au dernier moment à une foule venue sans prévenir. Deux autres salles sont ouvertes, des écrans géants installés. Le candidat ira tout de même saluer, à la fin, ceux qui sont dans les salles annexes. En d'autres temps, l'UDF aurait peiné à rassembler 1 000 militants.

Même la très confidentielle LCR [Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire - nimh] attire du monde dans ses réunions: « J'ai participé à plusieurs présidentielles. Dans les mêmes salles, à cinq ou huit ans de distance, on double », affirme Alain Krivine, le mentor d'Olivier Besancenot.

Les « gens » s'intéressent. Ils sont, selon l'expression d'un leader socialiste, « devenus consuméristes, y compris en politique ». [..] Ils veulent voir la vedette qu'ils ont déjà vue à la télé. Ils veulent se faire une opinion, aussi. « On a entre 20 %et un tiers des participants qui ne sont pas pour nous au départ », explique-t-on à l'UDF. « On les voit les nouveaux : ils n'applaudissent pas, ils écoutent, ils ne connaissent pas L'Internationale », s'amuse-t-on au Parti communiste. Les partis font tous un constat similaire : même la tranche des 35-45 ans, qui pourrait se contenter de regarder le meeting sur les chaînes du câble, la TNT ou Internet, répond présente.

Faire le plein, oui, mais pourquoi faire ? De nouvelles adhésions, peut-être. Une mobilisation des troupes. Une démonstration de force vis-à-vis du camp d'en face. Des reprises à la télévision, surtout. Être filmés et passer au vingt heures ! Tel est un des buts majeurs de ceux qui organisent un meeting électoral. [..]
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