Tag Archives: France

Schengen silliness

With French flags waving (as shown above) to the tune of La Marseillaise at a campaign rally in Villepinte on Sunday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened to pull France out of the Shengen zone, calling for a French defense to the “European way of life.”

Don’t worry — you shouldn’t believe for a nanosecond that Sarkozy will ever take concrete steps to pull France out of the 25-member Schengen zone in a second term.

You should believe, however, that it’s the next logical step in a populist campaign to consolidate right-wing voters in advance of the first round of France’s presidential election.  Recall that Sarkozy opened his reelection bid with a call for a referendum on immigration.  Last week, he declared there were “too many foreigners” in France and called for the country to halve the number of immigrants permitted annually from 200,000 to 100,000.

The Schengen Agreement, signed in 1985 but which took effect in 1995, allows for free travel without internal border controls throughout the EU countries (except for Ireland and the United Kingdom), plus non-EU members Iceland, Norway and others.  Even the sovereignty-conscious Swiss are members as of 2008.

It’s the agreement that allows outsiders to visit any number of European countries (again, except for Ireland and the U.K.), while going through passport control and customs just once — at the port of entry.

Taken together with the EU Directive on services in the internal market, promulgated in 2006 with implementation taking effect in 2009, which aims to create a single market for services throughout the EU, Schengen is also the agreement that nudges freer movement of workers across the European continent, subject to the labor regulations of each member state.

In any context, Schengen must be counted as the chief achievements of the entire European project.

Continue reading Schengen silliness

Could Mélenchon endanger Hollande’s first-round victory?

It’s easy to forget in the battle royale between the two champions of the center-left (François Hollande of the Parti socialiste) and the center-right (incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy of the latest right-wing Gaullist incarnation, Union pour un Mouvement Populaire) of the French presidential election, the first round ballot gives voters a choice of nine additional candidates.

From among those nine, the most well-known are Front national candidate Marine Le Pen, who is polling in third place and whose father finished second in the 2002 presidential election, and centrist Mouvement démocrate candidate François Bayrou, who finished a close third in the 2007 presidential election.  Perhaps equally well-known is former French foreign minister and prime minister Dominique de Villepin, whose presidential campaign in 2012 has yet to catch the imagination of the French electorate.

But creeping up slowly in the polls — with currently just under 10% — is the candidate of the Front de Gauche, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The Front de Gauche is an umbrella group of various leftist political parties, the most prominent of which is the once-strong but now-atrophied Parti communiste français.  Continue reading Could Mélenchon endanger Hollande’s first-round victory?

Parti socialiste, the Stromae remix

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

Alors on flippe!

This one, a parody from the Canal+ French presidential election coverage, will be a little difficult to follow for non-French speakers, but delightful for Stromae fans.

Join François Hollande, Ségolène Royal, Lionel Jospin, Martine Aubry and the whole Parti socialiste gang flip out about blowing another French election despite leading the polls.

The language may be French, but the whistle-past-the-graveyard feeling is instantly translatable to any campaign that’s watched a once-formidable lead slip away in electoral disaster, especially when the campaign is riding high and has six weeks left until voting day. See Jospin, 2002. See Royal, 2007.

Sings Hollande in the parody:

en 2012 c’est mon tour [In 2012, it’s my turn]
faut qu’je passe le premier tour [I must make it beyond the first round]
sinon comme Royal et Jospin [otherwise like Royal and Jospin]
je vais passer pour un crétin [I will be taken for a fool]

Hollande retakes the initiative

While campaigning in Bayonne over the weekend, French president Nicolas Sarkozy was ignominiously forced to take refuge in a local bar when Basque separatists and other protestors started throwing eggs at the beleaguered French leader, shouting in Basque dialect, “Nicolas kampora!” — Nicolas get out! 

A far cry from the start of the election, when Sarkozy seemed to take the initiative in the campaign and define the terms of the presidential race for the first time, buoyed by the confidence of European leaders across the continent, including German chancellor Angela Merkel.  In the immediate aftermath of his campaign announcement, Sarkozy also bounced somewhat upward in the polls — and as recently as last week, polled just 1.5% behind frontrunning Parti socialiste candidate François Hollande. Continue reading Hollande retakes the initiative

Hollande in Paris-on-the-Thames

Frecnh presidential frontrunner François Hollande went to London yesterday, campaigning in a city with som many French residents that it’s often called Paris-on-the-Thames.  A clip from The Guardian above shows Hollande meeting with the UK Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband at King’s College, London.

Traditionally, most French voters based in the UK have been based in London and, in particular, the City of London, home to London’s financial industry, one of the world’s centers of global finance.  With over 400,000 French residents, it is home to more French citizens than all but Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, and typically, those French voters have leaned to the right.

But that may be changing.  With a more subdued financial industry and ever-closer links across Europe, French citizens in London these days are less likely to be global bankers than everyday people studying, teaching or working outside the City. Continue reading Hollande in Paris-on-the-Thames

One week in, polls a mixed bag for Sarkozy

It’s been a relatively steady week and a half since French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced his candidacy for reelection with a mix of populist stances with respect to France and steady-ship statesmanship with respect to Europe, all the while showing some of the frenetic energy that won the Élysée in 2007.

The first crop of post-announcement polls show that Sarkozy is catching up to Parti socialiste candidate François Hollande in the first round, but still faces a double-digit gap in a second-round runoff against Hollande.

An Ipsos poll released today is demonstrative.

In the first round, the distribution of current voting intentions is as follows:

  • François Hollande — 31.5%
  • Nicolas Sarkozy — 27%
  • Marine Le Pen — 16%
  • François Bayrou — 11%
  • Jean-Luc Mélenchon — 8%
  • Eva Joly — 2.5%
  • Dominique de Villepin — 1%
  • Nicolas-Dupont Aignan — 1%

In the second round, however, Hollande leads Sarkozy by a 58% to 42% margin. Continue reading One week in, polls a mixed bag for Sarkozy

Shock and social media awe: Sarkozy campaign, day one

Earlier this evening, Nicolas Sarkozy launched the most uphill battle for reelection of any French President of the Fifth Republic.

Sarkozy is both lurching to the right and playing the European statesman card.  Acknowledging that the next five years would be different from the first five, he continued to call for separate referenda on both immigration and on unemployment benefits, with French unemployment at a 12-year high of 9.3 percent. Sarkozy harkened back to his 2007 message of rupture with the past; he noted that for 30 or 40 years, work has been devalued, and he promised that anyone with the health and desire to work will have a job or training:

Depuis trente ou quarante ans, on a dévalorisé le travail. Mon projet, c’est de mettre le travail au centre de tout. Tous ceux qui ont la force la santé pour travailler auront un emploi ou une formation. Et ceux qui n’en peuvent plus, qui sont malades, on aura la solidarité.

Continue reading Shock and social media awe: Sarkozy campaign, day one

The field, c’est moi

So it looks like Nicolas Sarkozy is gearing up to announce his formal campaign for reelection tomorrow.

In one sense, the optics will be horrible given Moody’s Monday downgrade — in one fell swoop, the credit ratings agency downgraded Spain, Italy, Portgual and others, while shifting the outlook on France’s current Aaa rating to “negative.” Standard and Poor’s downgraded France’s credit rating from Aaa to Aa last month, in what was seen as a stinging rebuke to Sarkozy.

But then again, it’s long seemed clear that the European debt crisis could also be Sarkozy’s key to victory. Continue reading The field, c’est moi

Shadows of 2007

I noted last week that Marine Le Pen could well shut out French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round.

Sure enough, I read this as an attempt, however clumsily, to win some of those culturally right-wing Front National voters back.  Sarkozy, as Minister of the Interior, co-opted Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in the 2007 elections in an incredibly skillful way.

With Marine polling substantially higher than her father’s 10.4% in 2007, it’s clear that Sarkozy will sending some quiet, but sure, signals to FN voters to attract the support he’ll need in the first round to advance to the runoff.

**** Continue reading Shadows of 2007

Ten years later, could another Le Pen sneak into a runoff?

Ten years ago, the left was so divided in the first round of the French presidential election that none of the left’s candidates, including then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, made it into either of the top-two wholesale mlb jerseys slots. The result was a nearly-farcical faceoff between then-President Jacques Chirac against longtime far-right Front national leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. 

In addition to Jospin, who finished just narrowly in third place with 16% of the vote, five additional leftists pulled between 3% and 6% of the vote, including Jean-Pierre Chevènement, a former Parti socialiste minister (minister of defense from 1988 wholesale nba jerseys to 1991 and minister of the Interior from 1997 to 2000), who took 5.33% of the first-round ballot. Chirac won the resulting runoff with 82% of the vote, including most of those frustrated voters ranging from center-left to far left, whose only alternative to Chirac, recently convicted for corrupition, was the xenophobic Le Pen. Continue reading Ten years later, could another Le Pen sneak into a runoff?