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September 18, 2005 - French Confusion

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This week - in Meanwhile: Items Not Covered - there was a short paragraph on who will next run for the presidency in France - Nicolas Sarkozy surely, José Bové possibly, and maybe Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.  And someone threw an egg at Laurent Fabius, and hit him.  Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, and "Our Man in Paris," clarifies matters.     




Paris - Saturday, September 17, 2005 -


Obviously a serious story such as the French presidential election in 2007 can't be left in the hands of news organizations such as Tocqueville and Radio France International. They leave a lot out.


Before getting to the names of the candidates, French news fans should know that elections here have short, fixed periods for official campaigns. Typically these will be six weeks before voting day. During this time there may be public meetings, debates on TV, ads plastered on official spaces outside polling stations, and blocks of near institutional equal-time ads for parties on TV in the ten minutes before the news at 20:00. All electoral activity ceases at the end of Friday before the Sunday polling.


(Germany tonight doesn't have the same restrictions. Merkel and Schröder were going at it hot and heavy today.)


Today's Candidates for President of France in 2007


On the Right

  • Jacques Chirac - as the sitting president he is assumed to be a candidate unless he is dead. Party: UMP
  • Nicolas Sarkozy - the current minister of the interior, president of the UMP, and self-declared candidate of the UMP. Motto: "Nothing can stop me." Suspected of being capable of self-exploding.
  • Dominique de Villepin - current prime minister, member of the UMP. Dominique hasn't said he's running, he hasn't been chosen by the UMP.  Why is he acting tall and suavely? Is it just to bother short, sharp Sarkozy?
  • François Bayrou - leader of the center-right, smaller UDF party.  Nominally allied with the UMP. A survivor, undeclared candidate.
  • Philippe de Villiers - leader of some strange, further right-wing party and anti-European, anti-Turk, pro-hunter, and making a pitch for the National Front voters. Philippe says he is a candidate.
  • Jean-Marie Le Pen - the everlasting leader of the ultra right-wing National Front party; who lost in the run-off against Chirac in 2002.  Who else is an eternal candidate? Specialty - destroying the number two in the FN even if it is his daughter, Marine Le Pen. Professional candidate.
  • Alain Juppé - is still out in the wilderness while courts decide whether he can play with the big boys again. Ex-prime minister - mayor of Bordeaux, has lots of political marbles but might not have a lucky touch. Could be an UMP choice if Dominique and Nicolas are ripping out each other's throats, and Jacques says it's okay.

On the Left 

  • François Hollande - secretary general of the Socialist Party, looks like a provincial insurance agent. Masterminded Jospin's defeat in 2002 but Jospin took blame. Masterminded PS support of European constitution vote. Is currently masterminding split in PS over the European vote. Not declared as a candidate but will be if still alive.
  • Laurent Fabius - ex-number 2 in the PS, ex-prime minister, advocated non-vote on European constitution. If he can't get out of hell's anteroom, he will get no support from the PS. Otherwise, he'll be a candidate.
  • Jack Lang - older Mitterrandista, one-time Min of Cult, instigator of Technoparade, ex-mayor of Blois, popular PS hack
  • Dominique Strauss Kahn - heavy-duty PS dude, ex-minister, heavy
  • Martine Aubrey - PS passionaria, bulldozed 35-hour workweek, from PS stronghold in Lille. Father was in wrong position, time, to be president. These three - Lang, DSK and Aubrey - are going around like the Three Musketeers, backing up Hollande. Any could be a losing candidate.
  • Bertrand Delanoë - mayor of Paris, head of city PS, amassing credits, taking care of voters, runs a tight machine, nominal Hollande supporter, mainstream. Not a PS candidate but a natural, except for being mayor of PARIS and all it implies for rest of France.
  • Henri Emmanuelli - leftist socialist, anti-Euro constitution - must have appeal with lefties, Communists and other real socialists. Not a candidate, but...
  • NPS - Nouveau Parti Socialiste - this is a group of young dudes, all much younger and better-looking than any of the above, and a new wave of socialists. These have potential, but more likely for 2017, 2022, etc. To watch.
  • José Bové - ex-spokesman for the Peasants Federation, but active with the small farmers and anti-OGM lefties. Could be close to the greenies - Les Verts. Saw a note that he's thinking of being a candidate.  (In court Tuesday, Spetempber 20 - for wrecking transgenetic corn - Bové could get a long term in the can.)
  • Les Verts - will definitely have a candidate, but who? Have several personalities.
  • Marie George Buffet - head of the French PC. Buffeted by communist decline but out there shaking hands, keeping the troops warm, marching in the parades. She will be the PC candidate. Popular on the left.
  • Arlette Laguillier - eternal leader of the Trotskists, Lutte Ouvriere, eternal presidential candidate. Still alive. Most likely will set record for number of times being candidate if she hasn't already. Also still on the barricades.
  • Olivier Besancenot - postman and candidate of the LCR, Communist Revolutionary League, anarchists. Delivering mail, active, and still young. A candidate for certain; going to try for Arlette's record between now and 2040.
  • Lionel Jospin - retired from politics after the 2002 presidential schmozzle. He makes rare excursions to rally the leftist faithful, such as for the European constitution vote. Otherwise he doesn't take sides, keeps his hands clean. If the PS keeps self-destructing, Lionel is a knight on a white horse. 

How to Be a Candidate


Each candidate must get 500 signatures from elected officeholders. In principle this is not hard because there are about 30,000 mayors in France and some might be willing to do it for a favor. Nevertheless, Le Pen is supposed to be having a problem rounding up pledges. He just squeaked in with this last time - or says he did. He is a victim of course, like Hitler was.


What Does It Mean?


This might explain why Sarkozy has said 'nothing can stop him.' He is taking a leaf from BushCo - if you say a thing often enough with conviction, it will come true no matter if there are 15 other candidates. But he runs the risk of the French getting sick and tired of him saying it, or getting huffy at his ambitious presumption.


In olden times - BS - before Sarkozy - the jockeying went on behind closed doors until about six months before an election. You'd know two or three that were certain to be candidates, but the majority of the herd would declare shortly before the election. Then there would be a short campaign, the meetings, the ads, the TV talks, the election and then the run-off.


I'm not sure the French will take to eternal politics. I don't know if the bulk of the politicians like the idea. For one thing, some elections that should have been held in the spring of 2007 have had their dates changed, because they 'conflict' with the presidential election. It is political wisdom that says the French can't be expected to vote for president and municipals in the same season.


Opposite Directions


As for what to vote for, there certainly is a choice that needs to be made. Should France jump on the Anglo-Saxon 'liberal'-economics globalized culture-flattening bandwagon? Or should France go with a socialist-social alternative that has some respect for the planet?


The problem with the first is that it has no intellectual goal, is hardly a strategy for the common good. At the moment the alternative lacks intellectual vision.


Yes, France is different.  But why?  Compared to many leaders, the conservative Chirac is a 'socialist' in the interior - ditto Schröder - but how can this socialism translate into a better life for the French?  And by extension, for anybody else who wants to adopt it.  France needs to sit down and think hard.


Anyway, first off, there is no free lunch. The rich need to get used to it.




Copyright © 2005 – Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis



Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
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See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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