Tag Archives: segolene

Hollande and Sarkozy move beyond debate: motion without movement

French presidential finalists — incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Parti socialiste candidate François Hollande — faced off Wednesday night in what commentators are calling the most animated debate in the history of French presidential debates.

In short, Sarkozy jumped into the arena as attack dog on any number of issues — defending his record on the economy in France and in the eurozone, and going on the offensive on any number of cultural issues, such as immigration.  Hollande, in turn, gave as good as he took from Sarkozy, showing that he could rebut the president’s jabs persuasively, forcefully and calmly.

For me, the debate is crystallized by a snarky exchange over Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF managing director and Party socialiste heavyweight who, until he was charged with raping a housekeeper in New York last year, was the favorite to win the Socialist nomination and the French presidency:

“I won’t accept lessons from a political party that was enthusiastically uniting behind Dominique Strauss-Kahn,”Sarkozy said in a hard-fought debate four days before France’s election.

“I was sure you were going to bring that up,” Hollande retorted. “You put him at the head of the IMF.”

In any event, the result is a presidential race with a dynamic fairly unchanged from the pre-debate dynamic, with Hollande leading by anywhere from six to nine points in advance of Sunday’s second-round vote.  If anything, Hollande gained a little ground — by pushing back at Sarkozy, he showed he is not quite the squish everyone assumes him to be.

Ultimately, I can’t help thinking that the debate is a metaphor for the second round so far: a lot of motion, but not a lot of movement. Continue reading Hollande and Sarkozy move beyond debate: motion without movement

La revanche de Ségolène

The revenge of Ségolène indeed.

Ségolène Royal, the 2007 presidential candidate of the Parti socialiste, joined François Hollande, the 2012 presidential candidate of the Parti socialiste at a campaign event in Nannes Wednesday night to rally left-leaning voters in France at a time when apathy — and a fierce radical left presidential challenge from Jean-Luc Mélenchon — threatens to erode Hollande’s first-round lead in the presidential race. 

Normally, it’s not incredibly advisable for a candidate, skirting along the cusp of victory, to invite last cycle’s loser to headline one of the largest pivotal rallies of the campaign — it’s sort of like Jimmy Carter inviting George McGovern to campaign for him in the 1976 U.S. general election.

But there, of course, is something fascinating and perhaps a little cathartic in watching the two — intraparty rivals, partners for over three decades and parents of four children — unite in such a public manner.  Although their political differences aren’t nearly so wide as some in the PS, no other moment could symbolize the party’s unity in the 2012 election.

It is rumored that, should Hollande win in May and should the PS win legislative elections in June, Hollande will appoint Royal as President of the National Assembly.

Among especially those with the weakest political voices in the suburbs, Royal retains an aura of excitement that the more plodding Hollande can never match — she has been campaigning for Hollande especially hard in Marseille, for example.  While the glamour has faded from Royal, who once looked to become France’s first female president — she finished embarrassingly low in the 2011 primary for the PS presidential nomination — there’s a glint yet of the magic and excitement that her 2007 candidacy once promised.

As Le Monde notes:

Et même s’il sort gagnant, il devra lutter contre cette suspicion de ne l’avoir été que par la virulence de l’anti-sarkozysme. Pour toutes ces raisons, il a besoin de retrouver un peu de la ferveur de 2007. [And even if Hollande wins, he will struggle against the suspicion of not really having won, but rather than the result of the virulence of anti-Sarkozyism. For all these reasons, he needs to regain some of the fervor of 2007.]

On the other hand, Hollande had better hope that the appearance with Royal — who lost the second round of the 2007 race to Nicolas Sarkozy by six points — does not make French voters see him as just the next in a long line of sacrificial lambs on the left in the past two decades to have watched nearly “certain” presidential campaigns end in disaster.

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