Sunday, June 25, 2006

Who Will Be The Next French President?

France will hold another presidential election next year and the conventional wisdom seems to be that current President Jacques Chirac will not run. If he did, he would likely be embarrassed. Mr. Chirac has been the lightning rod for many things that have not gone well during this past term and I suppose that those that know France well enough, could write book chapter (or two) on the reasons. I would think that if you asked the French, themselves, they would all differ as to the largest single cause of Chirac's low popularity. But the thing to remember about this last term of his is this, he was the default candidate.

The runoff in the past election pitted Mr. Chirac against the right-wing, ultra-nationalist candidate
Jean-Marie Le Pen. Socialists and other left-leaning parties were not fond of the Gaullist Chirac, but they really abhorred Le Pen. So, the vote for Jacques was a vote against Jean. An interesting note on Chirac that many Americans do not know is, Chirac served as President Francois Mitterand's Prime Minister (a Socialist) from 1986-88, the same post he held from 1974-76. He was also Mayor of Paris and has held many other posts, as well.

So, don't feel too sorry for him, he has had a long political career.

He will be rememered for a number of things, but he will most likely be most remembered for his present term as President, which has been quite volatile. It has been marked by public opposition to the Iraq War (I still think he has has aided more in intelligence than he has been willing to say), immigrant and labor riots, and the big one: the French vote against the EU Constitution. Most French people stood with him on his public refusal to support the ouster of Saddam Hussein, but have turned on him in other areas.

His legacy now in question,
it has been reported that he is depressed. It just further solidifies my opinion, I don't think that he will run, again. His credibility took a nose-dive after that EU vote and it is doubtful he will be able to recover. France wants a new direction, which is the old one. The direction Chirac wanted to take France in, was that of Europeanization. Face it, France does not want to lose it Frenchness, for the greater good of the continent.

And honestly? I cannot blame them.

The EU is bogged down in so much elitist bureaucracy, I cannot see that it can accomplish much if anything at all, even if it were given a constitution. France is not the only country either. Holland and Poland are not too keen on the EU idea either.

So, who will France pick as their next leader? Who wants to step up to the podium to tackle the restless French people's problems.? Who wants to be the whipping post for whatever is irritating them at any given time. And better yet, who will they want for that job?

It's hard to say.

There isn't much coming out about the upcoming campaign, at least not in the U.S. media. Part of it may be, they don't have campaigns for nearly as long as we do here in America. Other than a few articles on posturing, there hasn't been much campaign news here in the U.S., at least not just yet. Whoever it will be though, may have to define themselves by where they sit on the issue of the EU. Does France really want to be involved in it, or not? That will no doubt be asked and will be one of the many factors the French people will have to consider, in their choice. That might be the hot button issue, much like the border is ours.

Le Pen is already a leading candidate, by virtue of having done so well in 2002. His ultra-nationalist ideology is what many people in France think the nation needs right now. But the socialists that have been a formidable force and the more moderate Gaullists have entirely different world views for what they feel France's image should be. Le Pen looks to keep France French, not mingle his culture with others. He is the Pat Buchanan of France. He is highly anti-immigration. He sees the problems that the country faces due to the massive immigration of Arab Muslims. He, no doubt, also sees how it endangers French culture and tradition. However, there are many that vehemently disagree with him, it will not be easy for him to ascend much further than to where he is right now. That is, unless there are more immigrant riots.

The big problem I see with him, is he is not the biggest fan of Israel, or Jews in general. Some have referred to him as downright anti-semitic. They also fear that he will isolate France more than it presently is and could be a catalyzing force in Europe. By that I mean, he would be more protectionist and Europe could see his election as a threat to the EU. And thus, tensions could arise that haven't been there since the end of WWII.

The more moderate candidate that seems to be the one that can take some of the edge off of Le Pen's harsh edge, yet maintain the Frenchness of France (all while making people think he is taking the country in a new direction) is
Nicolas Sarkozy. He has emerged as a leading candidate in "Union pour un Mouvement Populaire" (Union for Popular Movement) party, the party that backs Chirac (he is not a member). He has openly criticized the policies of Chirac and his PM, Dominique de Villepin. He wants to be the element of change within the party. To have any chance, he must prove to the people that he is not Chirac.

The up and coming Socialist candidate has been featured over at Super Frenchie's site. Her name is Ségolène Royal. She carries a lot of weight in the party because of who she has a civil union with and who is also the father of her children, Francois Hollande, who is the party leader. It sounds like she is waiting on former President Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to decide what his plans are, but has been stepping up the rhetoric against Sarkozy, in her speeches.

First and foremost, she is a socialist. And unless one is a socialist, they are not likely to appeal to moderates. But, she is a good looking woman and may win some support on sex appeal, alone. I am not being sexist here, it's just a fact that some men think in those terms, sad as it may be. The other thing to note in a supposed candidacy of hers is, to elect her means electing Hollande. Unless there's a falling out of the two, which is most unlikely, he will be in the mix prominently should she run and win.

What kind of president France will choose next year is not an easy prediction to make. With all of the uncertainties that are present in today's republic, it's not going to be an easy thing to predict at this stage of the game. It's a less than a year away and a lot can happen, between now and then. But one thing is pretty assured, Jacques Chirac will not be the one to lead France, after his term expires. His era will soon be over.

If you are one that puts a lot credence in early polls and sees them as valid indicators so early in the season, an early poll released this past April shows, Sarkozy and Royal in a dead heat. The same pollsters also determined that in a runoff situation, Royal would win. But, as I have stated, it would be very premature to speculate at this point in time. So, I will refrain from making a guess and see what you think?

Will Sarkozy sell his new direction to the people, will the Socialists reclaim the Presidency, or will the nation swing a hard right to Le Pen? Or will someone come up out of the dust from seemingly nowhere to storm the French political scene?

20 comments:

BabyHair said...

If I were a Frenchman living in France, I would vote for LePen. The massive immigration of Muslims to France and the other European nations is destroying France as well as the rest of old Europe. It's a shame that the leaders of these nations don't understand an important aspect of human nature which is the following: people want to live, work and associate with other people of their own type. In other words, France is for the French not Muslims. It's as simple as that.

LASunsett said...

Babyhair,

My only problem with Le Pen is the charge of him being an anti-semitist. That kind of thing will trun me off as fast as anything, no matter how good they may look on paper.

Sarkozy sounds intriguing, but I haven't heard much about him lately, at least in the international press.

Anonymous said...

Interesting piece LASunset, with good information. Nothing I can disagree with in fact. Just one little thing: about Europe: it has never been an issue in any election campaign or program; not only in France but in all European countries. It's a perfect example of an issue left to technocrats to deal with but next to totally foreign to popular concern. Sarkozy let it be clear that he opposes the integration of Turkey but nobody knows what the socialists think about it. And that holds true for S.Royal. What's her position on this issue???
The majority of the electorate opposes Turkey being a member of the EU but it seems politicians simply couldn't care less about what the populace thinks. Hence the good numbers Le Pen enjoys each time there's an election.

Flocon

Anonymous said...

baby hair: there are french people that are muslims but not at all arabic! There again, there is a huge confusion... Immigration is a chance much more than a threat. And when you say "The massive immigration of Muslims to France and the other European nations is destroying France as well as the rest of old Europe" you should know that some european countries like Albania or Bosnia Herzegovina are mostly muslim. Would they be threaten by...other muslims?

Plus: what do you mean by "Old Europe"? I find the expression meaningless. What is "New Europe" by contrast??? But tell me where is "middle-aged Europe"??? A very good start would be to define the boundaries of Europe, don't you think?

Then you say that " people want to live, work and associate with other people of their own type" well, that statement scares me a lot to say the least... What's the "type" you are talking about??? The white people with the white people? the black people with the black people? Christians with Christians and so on and so forth??? Please, explain your views more precisely, I want to be sure of what you are talking about.

Well, LASUNSETT, France needs to refresh its constitution first, two executives have proven highly inefficient, and I guess that the left party will win the next presidential election, that's a matter of political "alternance"

From: yet an other "Cheese-eating filthy-socialist unhealthy surrender frog" living in the most visited country in the world!

LASunsett said...

Flocon,

Just one little thing: about Europe: it has never been an issue in any election campaign or program; not only in France but in all European countries. It's a perfect example of an issue left to technocrats to deal with but next to totally foreign to popular concern.

Just so I have this clear, do you mean that none of the countries have made the EU constitution an issue in any of their election campaigns? Or do you mean the issue of the EU in general?

I am not doubting you, mind you. But I find it hard to believe that none of them used it as campaign fodder. Here in the States, this would have been what I call a "hot button issue", if there ever was one.

LASunsett said...

Anonymous,

France needs to refresh its constitution first,

Why do you feel France need to refresh its constitution?

Anonymous said...

"Why do you feel France need to refresh its constitution?"

LaSunsett: there must be one single executive: a president or a prime minister, not both! The problem is: who really governs France? who gives impetus to our country? the president or the PM??? Thus we need to make a change in our constitution. Look, when Mitterand (left-leaned) was president, Chirac (right-leaned) was PM because of our "big farcical" political system that allowed a "cohabitation". In turn, Jospin (from the left) was PM under the presidency of Chirac. Where's the sense in that?

Plus, I think that the power in the hands of the executive, a PM or a president, should be balanced by a "strong" parliament. We don't need an other De Gaulle or another King, we only need a strong executive, a strong parliament and we should force people to vote, like in Belgium (if you don't vote there, you have to pay a fee). I seldom vote, I'm ashamed to say, but if I was bound to, I would!

Last but not least, there must be something done to save the european constitution (French constitution, european constitution, the french are europeans so...) We, people of Europe, have defined a number of topics on which I thought we had the same views. Still, despite the "no" from France (and Holland), those values must be settled and written in a constitution.

LASunsett said...

Anonymous,

when Mitterand (left-leaned) was president, Chirac (right-leaned) was PM because of our "big farcical" political system that allowed a "cohabitation". In turn, Jospin (from the left) was PM under the presidency of Chirac. Where's the sense in that?

In the U.S. the checks and balances are such that we have had the executive branch controlled by one party and the legislative, by the other. It's not right now, but it has been in the past. It would seem to me that one party in control of both, creates too much power for one party. Too much power can result in too much reform, too quickly, and much faster than the populace can bear.

I guess the French parliament is unicameral, so that also presents another problem as far as concentration of power is concerned. I understand your points, though. Sometimes when you have a divided government, you get nothing but stalemate.

superfrenchie said...

LASunsett: //The direction Chirac wanted to take France in, was that of Europeanization. Face it, France does not want to lose it Frenchness, for the greater good of the continent.

And honestly? I cannot blame them.//


I disagre. Europe exists because France started it. It is an enormous success, and it has brought peace to the continent for more than 60 years, for the first time in centuries. The French still want Europe. They just did not want that particular constitution, and they may not want Europe to be enlarged beyond what it currently is, at least not right now. And they are not afraid of losing their "frenchness."

//Le Pen is already a leading candidate//

I have stated that before, and I stand by it: Le Pen will not get the necessary signatures to be a candidate. He needs 500, from about 37,000 elected people (mayors, deputies, etc...). Last time, he got them mostly from the left, becuase they hoped to divide the right. As we all know, it badly backfired. They won't do it this time. Let me add that this is a minority opinion. Most people disagree with me.

Assuming I am wrong, he has no chance anyway. May I remind you that last time, the final score was 82% to 18%...

Oh, and another thing: Le Pen is a racist pig!

About Segolene: //It sounds like she is waiting on former President Lionel Jospin to decide what his plans are, but has been stepping up the rhetoric against Sarkozy, in her speeches.//

She is not waiting for Jospin (who has never been President, just Prime Minister). Jospin is dead in the water and nobody is waiting for him. The party will soon have an internal primary. About 50K new people have signed up recently, most saying that it is to vote for Sego. The smart money is on her.

//And unless one is a socialist, they are not likely to appeal to moderates.//

Not at all. Sego's appeal (not her sex appeal) cuts across party lines. She has advocated Blair's labor policies, and tough policies on youth crime. By doing that, she has alienated some in her own party, and reportedly irritated Hollande, her life partner and the party's leader. But that's part of her appeal.

About Sarko: //He has openly criticized the policies of Chirac and his PM, Dominique de Villepin. He wants to be the element of change within the party. To have any chance, he must prove to the people that he is not Chirac.//

He has already proven that 10 times over. He is constantly at odds with Chirac, for whom he serves as minister. That's by design.

The difference with Sego is that he does not cut across party line.

Which is why my prediction is...

Segolene Royal!

superfrenchie said...

lasunsett: //I guess the French parliament is unicameral, so that also presents another problem as far as concentration of power is concerned.//

No the French Parliament is bi-cameral (Senate and House of Deputies), although the Senate has considerably less powers than in the US.

The Parliament makes laws (like in the US). So when the Parliament is on one side and the President on the other, it forces the President to nominate a Cabinet on the side of the Parliament. Thus cohabitation, which has advantages and inconvenients...

superfrenchie said...

babyhair: //France is for the French not Muslims//

Well, as someone already said, most of the Muslims in France are born French, are well adpated, and like France. See here for details.

Furthermore, the French have a better opinion of Muslims than any other Western country, including the US. Incidentaly, they also have a better opinion of Jews than any other Western country, also including the US. I know, it's not the stereotype, but overall, we're a very tolerant people. See here for details.

L'Amerloque said...

Hi LASunsett !

All in all, an excellent resumé of the situation as seen from over there. (smile)

If he may, Amerloque will simply kibitz his way through the post …

/*/France will hold another presidential election next year and the conventional wisdom seems to be that current President Jacques Chirac will not run./*/

As of today, no. (smile) One must never underestimate M. Chirac, however.

/*/But the thing to remember about this last term of his is this, he was the default candidate./*/

Yes. What must be remembered, too, is that in the first round of the last presidential elections (2002), many people voted for what might be considered "extremist" candidates:

M. MEGRET Bruno 2.34%
M. LE PEN Jean-Marie 16.86%
Mme LAGUILLER Arlette 5.72%
M. BESANCENOT Olivier 4.25%

That's twenty-nine point one seven percent (29.17%) of the electorate. None of these groups have a representative in the National Assembly, either. That's an awful lot of people who are not represented – or even heard officially.

In Amerloque's view, the current accepted wisdom of a "Sego – Sarko" runoff, while credible today, is nowhere near a sure thing, what with the above dispersion of French voters.

The whole political spectrum in France is far further to the left, compared to the USA. Last year Amerloque attempted to outline the French and American political spectra, by plotting familiar politicians' names on a do-it-yourself chart … :(http://tinyurl.com/lyqwy)

/*/The direction Chirac wanted to take France in, was that of Europeanization. Face it, France does not want to lose it Frenchness, for the greater good of the continent. /*/

This is going to be turning into a huge issue, in Amerloque's view. French people are (finally) sitting down and discovering just what "Europe" has – or has not – done for them. "Is Europe a 'success' as the politicians would have us believe, or not ?" they are asking, along with a host of other, heretofore unasked, questions. Some French people are surprised by what they have found: from their view decades ago of the EU as beneficial to France, they now see that the EU, with its insistence on "competition", as a hindrance. It has, they maintain, contributed to the destruction of public services in France, for example. However, the presidential elections are first … only after that will "Europe" become an issue. Closing the borders, withdrawing from the euro … these are now being spoken about. Not much, and not loudly, granted … but they are now on the table. That's new. The French MSM media (Liberation, Le Monde, Le Figaro) haven't picked up on these, yet, nor have French people living overseas who obtain most of their info from the French MSM. There is new thinking out there, though: Amerloque sees and hears it every day. One of latest big issues is the recent decision by the EU to pull up thousands upon thousands (400,000 hectares, i.e., one million acres !) of vines used to make wine. This has caused far more stir than the MSM has let on: EU actions such as this are never emphasized here.

/*/Whoever it will be though, may have to define themselves by where they sit on the issue of the EU. Does France really want to be involved in it, or not? That will no doubt be asked and will be one of the many factors the French people will have to consider, in their choice. That might be the hot button issue, much like the border is ours./*/

As he stated, while Europe will, in time, turn into a hot button issue, it won't be for this time around, in Amerloque's view.

/*/ Le Pen … He is highly anti-immigration. /*/

Yes and No. (sigh) Yes: what he condemns is the fact that "the immigrants" are using up resources that might better be used for "the French". He also feels that if immigrants are not integrated (whether through their own fault or through the fault of the State), then they should not be here. No: Le Pen's wife is apparently born of non-French parents, for example, while Le Pen's Front National has Arab, black and Jewish members. Whether or not they are "tokens" is for each person to decide. (As an immigrant himself; Amerloque keeps abreast of FN developments. –smile-)

/*/He sees the problems that the country faces due to the massive immigration of Arab Muslims. /*/

Actually, that's Philippe de Villiers' ("Mouvement Pour La France") position: PdV condemns the "islamization of France". Le Pen publicly criticized PdV for doing so, by the way.

In many repects, Amerloque is reminded of the equation "immigration" = "immigrants" = "Mexicans" prevalent in SoCal. Here it's "immigration" = "immigrés" = "Arabes" = "Islam". The first is not necesarily true, nor is the second.

/*/The big problem I see with him, is he is not the biggest fan of Israel, or Jews in general. Some have referred to him as downright anti-semitic. /*/

No, he is not a big fan of Israel, and yes, some of his pronouncements are anti-semitic, in Amerloque's view. In LePen's jargon, "influences cosmopolites" ("cosmopolitan influences") is used to mean "Jewish influence". Like many anti-semities, he appears to believe – at least in his public discourse, at any rate - that "the Jews" are a monolithic entity. How this squares with the National Front's acceptance of Jewish members is somewhat Gordian, of course, but, when all is said and done, it boils down to "Zionism"and "Israel": at least this is Amerloque's extrapolation, after speaking to several Jewish and Arab FN members over the years (Being quite familiar with SoCal … Amerloque knows that not all "Jews" are rabid "Zionists", nor are all "Jews" overly happy with "Israel" and its actions, of course … ) In his own eyes, LePen is a French patriot. For that reason, when he is participating in a round table on TV, and when one of the French participants is Jewish, LePen will invariably ask if the person is a citizen of Israel as well as of France. If the answer is yes, LePen asks how the person's loyalty can be divided, for, in LePen's eyes, one cannot be a "good citizen" of two countries simultaneously (whether France/.Israel or France/Algeria or France/Morocco or … France/USA, for that matter). (Note that this anecdote is not offered to excuse or mitigate LePen's anti-semitism: it's simply an illustration of how he uses it in public.)

When one looks into the FN program in detail one finds the possible and the improbable, the rational and the unreal, in Amerloque's view. Too, one of the major and enduring political problems here is that far too many people say "Oh, those are the LePen crazies" or "We have to stop LePen !" or "Le Pen is a racist !" without really knowing just what LePen stands for (or against, for that matter). They rely on the media to tell them about LePen. For that reason, many people in the country were shocked when LePen made it into the runoff in 2002. It was not unexpected, at least by those out there in the street or on the motorways, out in the provinces, talking to real French people living in France about real French issues. (sigh) In the 2002 presidential elections, the Le Pen straw man, so carefully founded by Mitterrand and nutured by the left and the politically correct MSM and people who dismiss the FN as a "bunch of racist crazies", came alive. People took a hard look at just what Le Pen is/was saying … and realized that his thiking had been deformed by the MSM for years.

This is not to say that Le Pen has a serious chance of being elected. There are several reasons for this, in Amerloque's view:

a) He has to get onto the ballot, which means 500 signatures of mayors and other elected officials are needed; he might not collect them, because …

b) He is being overtaken on the right by Phillipe de Villiers, whose rhetoric is even more to the right. Too, PdV can claim more knoweledge of the economy (in 2002 it was clear that Le Pen's economic guru, Martinez, was not up to snuff) There might not be enough mayors willing to sign up for two right-wing candidates, which will work against Le Pen.

c) His FN party has seen a lot of defections since 2002: a lot of the "heavyweights" have left or been banished by LePen himself.

d) He is old.

./*/The more moderate candidate that seems to be the one that can take some of the edge off of Le Pen's harsh edge, yet maintain the Frenchness of France (all while making people think he is taking the country in a new direction) is Nicolas Sarkozy. He has emerged as a leading candidate in "Union pour un Mouvement Populaire" (Union for Popular Movement) party, the party that backs Chirac (he is not a member)./*/

Well … Chirac founded the original party years ago: that must count for something. (wide grin)

/*/To have any chance, he must prove to the people that he is not Chirac./*/

It'll be tough going. Sarko was Chirac's protegé for many, many years and even used to date Chirac's daughter, Claude …

/*/The up and coming Socialist candidate has been featured over at Super Frenchie's site. Her name is Ségolène Royal. /*/

For the moment she's on top of the polls, but in the past two months or so the press has been delving into her past activites. Last month's business magazine "Capital" did a top-notch hatchet job on her. (grin)

In Amerloque's view, she will be handicapped because (in order of magnitude):

a) She will have to run on the Socialist Party platform, which is somewhat anti-business, the "tax and spend" variety. (She is resolutely anti-business, and her hubby Hollande recently said on prime time TV "I hate the rich!" , but that's for another day … ). Observers have estimated to cost of the new Socialist programs at something over 115 billion euros, and counting …

b) She has little knowledge of the economy and, more importantly; of Europe and of foreign policy. She will have to come up to speed on them. Not easy at all. Amerloque has not met one French businessman or woman in France who can take Royal seriously. Perhaps tomorrow … (smile)…

c) She is a woman. The people press reports that she has even had her front teeth ground down, to appear "less carnivorous". (sigh)

Lionel Jospin is still in the wings and is not to be underestimated. His intellectual and moral attributes put Sego to shame: there has not been one little breath of scandal associated with the man, contrary to (far too) many French politicians. He is credible in the fields of economy and foreign policy (he was Prime Minister, after all) Furthermore, there is the time honored French tradition of "crossing the desert" (being out of office and favor for many years, in short). Both de Gaulle and Mitterrand did it before becoming President. Jospin is just coming out of his desert now. Sego has never even been there … (grin).

Today, Amerloque sees Jospin as the Socialist candidate in 2007, but reserves the right to modify his view according to changes in the political landscape, of which Amerloque is expecting many … (grin)

/*/Will Sarkozy sell his new direction to the people, will the Socialists reclaim the Presidency, or will the nation swing a hard right to Le Pen? Or will someone come up out of the dust from seemingly nowhere to storm the French political scene? /*/

One sign of change in progress, in Amerloque's view: recently the radio station "Beur FM" (which was founded and is run by and for French-born Arabs, sons and daughters of immigrants) invited Marine Le Pen, Jean-Marie's daughter and FN putative heir apparent, to participate in a prime-time interview program. This is, quite frankly, astonishing. For those of us following French politics, an event such as this is a sea change: practically unheard of (everyone "knows" the Arabs hate the FN, and vice versa, right ?). As far as Amerloque is aware, the MSM really didn't refer to it too much, other than to make a couple of snide comments about the fact that FN supporters called in "spontaneous" questions during the telephone phase. The French political landscape is shifting. How far and in what direction has yet to be determined.

There's a huge swing to the extremes taking place, in Amerloque's view. People on the street are really and truly furious at what is happening (both people on the left and people on the right: when Amerloque says "people", he shows no favorites). The political center is crumbling. Whether it's "globalization" or "Europe" or "exclusion" or "immigration" or "housing" or "education" or even more mundane things like "cellphone relay towers" or "new four-lane highways" or "regional waste disposal locations", people right across the political spectrum are unhappy and angry.

Best,
L'Amerloque

superfrenchie said...

Well, look like L'Amerloque and I disagree on a few things... :)

Just a quick comment about the "French people living overseas who obtain most of their info from the French MSM"

I'm not one of them. I do read the French MSM, but I also speak daily with a group of about 60 people in a mountain bike email list. We exchange up to 200 messages a day. About 50% of what we talk about has anything to do with bikes. The rest: beer, wine, food, women, sex, computers, commuting problems, cars, and... politics. Further, I often go to France.

So I'll reiterate:

- Le Pen is a pig
- Jospin isn't going anywhere
- Segolene has a lot of cross-appeal
- She's not anti-business (see her episode w/ Blair)
- Sarko is already not Chirac
- Europe is not dead

And finally:

- The French will not leave the euro-zone. There has been a 30% appreciation over the dollar in just 4 years, meaning that we pay that much less our oil imports for example. Yes, at the beginning, people were blaming (wrongly, IMO) the euro for inflation, but that has largely subsided.

- the center is not exploding. Or Sego would not be where she is. The fragmentation of the vote on the first round that you mention has to do with a stand that we French have always taken against whatever party was in power: don't take us for granted. That explains both the alternance and the fragmentation of the vote in the first round. Not that the center is exploding!

- I'm pleased that at least one person agrees with me on the difficulty Le Pen will have to get the signatures :)

superfrenchie said...

Re my statement: //- Le Pen is a pig//

Correction:

- Le Pen is a RACIST pig!

L'Amerloque said...

Hi SF !

/*/Well, look like L'Amerloque and I disagree on a few things... :)/*/

(smile) Yup. The world would be a sad place indeed if everyone agreed on everything ! (wider smile) By the way, do note that Amerloque posted his entry before reading the others, including yours.

Re: Sego and Blair .

(smile) In Amerloque's view, Tony Blair is what in America is called a "snake oil salesman". As Wiki says: "… the most common usage of the words is as a derogatory term for medicines to imply that they are fake, fraudulent, and usually ineffective. The expression is also applied metaphorically to any product with exaggerated marketing but questionable or unverifiable quality."

Tony Blair and his "New Labor" have done nothing but take advantage of the "work" carried out by Maggie Thatcher and John Major. They chopped down the trees, cleared the fields, plowed the earth, sowed the seeds; watered and fertilized. Blair and his buddies (aka "The New Sleazies") are simply benefiting from the results: harvesting the crops, as it were

You are perhaps too young to remember the three-day work week in the UK. Yes, three days. This was in the 1970s, when the British unions had brought the country to its knees. Electricity only three days a week, in some areas. (Amerloque was working for a British company in France, and it was tough going when dealing with the home office. –sigh-) The three-day workweek was just one of the issues at that time. In France it's nowdays politically correct to say "Thatcher destroyed the British public services and the social safety net," but there's more to it than that. (smile) Maggie just didn't appear out of nowhere. She wasn't like Boticelli's Venus, emerging from a nice white seashell. (smile) She was elected by the people as a reaction to the social catastrophe(s) produced by the preceding Labor administration(s).

By saying that she "admired" Tony Blair (aka "Bliar"), Ségo clearly demonstrated that she was clueless about what is happening economically in the United Kingdom. Generally, with very few exceptions, the French Socialists are clueless about economy: they've been proving it since 1981. Sego is but the most recent representative in a long line of people who have no idea what it is to work in real life. She's a meteor which will burn out soon, Amerloque feels. As usual, the future will tell ! (smile)

Best,
L'Amerloque

LASunsett said...

SF,

Europe exists because France started it. It is an enormous success, and it has brought peace to the continent for more than 60 years, for the first time in centuries.

By Europe, do you mean the EU? I don't recall France starting up Europe.

If you do mean the EU, then 1992 is when the Maastricht Treaty was signed. Hardly 60 years. The common market is about 50 or so years old, but even at that, it's not 60. (NOTE-I say this because of the pinpoint accuracy you demanded on that one post we debated. If I used that logic I would throw the rest of your comments out, but I will not do that)

I think the single entity or force that has kept Europe at peace for 60 years has been NATO.

My problem with the EU is loss of sovereignty and the elitist mentality that runs it. My example is Flocon's statement about they way they are handling the Turkey issue.

May I remind you that last time, the final score was 82% to 18%...

Yes, but he did make the runoff. He beat out the socialist candidate. I do not know as much about the process as you do, I knew nothing of the signatures he needs to get on the ballot.

No the French Parliament is bi-cameral (Senate and House of Deputies)

She is not waiting for Jospin (who has never been President, just Prime Minister)


In my best Johnny Carson impersonation voice, "I did not know that".

I thought I had read that France had a unicameral parliament and that Josspin had been President. I stand (or in this case sit) corrected.

Thank you sir for your input on this.

LASunsett said...

l'Amerloque,

Hello.

I have a question for you. You wrote:

M. MEGRET Bruno 2.34%
M. LE PEN Jean-Marie 16.86%
Mme LAGUILLER Arlette 5.72%
M. BESANCENOT Olivier 4.25%

That's twenty-nine point one seven percent (29.17%) of the electorate. None of these groups have a representative in the National Assembly, either. That's an awful lot of people who are not represented – or even heard officially.


Are those people all right wing extremists or are they a mixture of left and right? Because if they are all right wing, what's to say that they could not all unite someday and become a force? If they are left and right mixed that becomes less of a reality, though.

Actually, that's Philippe de Villiers' ("Mouvement Pour La France") position: PdV condemns the "islamization of France". Le Pen publicly criticized PdV for doing so, by the way.

I had not heard that name before. Le Pen was the only one that I knew of that was highly critical of the Arab influx. How much popular support, do you think de Villiers has in France?

There's a huge swing to the extremes taking place, in Amerloque's view. People on the street are really and truly furious at what is happening (both people on the left and people on the right: when Amerloque says "people", he shows no favorites). The political center is crumbling. Whether it's "globalization" or "Europe" or "exclusion" or "immigration" or "housing" or "education" or even more mundane things like "cellphone relay towers" or "new four-lane highways" or "regional waste disposal locations", people right across the political spectrum are unhappy and angry.

You change a couple of nouns here and there in that passage and you might think it was America. It's headed that way here too, I am afraid.

Thank you for your input, sir. And as always, please come back.

L'Amerloque said...

Hi LASunsett !

/*/I have a question for you. You wrote:

///M. MEGRET Bruno 2.34%
M. LE PEN Jean-Marie 16.86%
Mme LAGUILLER Arlette 5.72%
M. BESANCENOT Olivier 4.25%

That's twenty-nine point one seven percent (29.17%) of the electorate. None of these groups have a representative in the National Assembly, either. That's an awful lot of people who are not represented – or even heard officially.///

Are those people all right wing extremists or are they a mixture of left and right? Because if they are all right wing, what's to say that they could not all unite someday and become a force? If they are left and right mixed that becomes less of a reality, though./*/

Megret and Lepen are what is called the "extreme right". Megret was in the National Front and split to found his own party. Laguiller and Benancenot are far left, Trotskyist splinter parties.

Both extremes are said to have voted (at least the polls say so) against the Constututional Treaty last year, so they "united": they are anti-Europe. If proportional representation came about in the National Assembly, they might unite on some votes, though … it's a stretch … proportional represenation is not on the cards …

/*////Actually, that's Philippe de Villiers' ("Mouvement Pour La France") position: PdV condemns the "islamization of France". Le Pen publicly criticized PdV for doing so, by the way.///

I had not heard that name before. Le Pen was the only one that I knew of that was highly critical of the Arab influx. How much popular support, do you think de Villiers has in France?/*/

Phillipe de Villiers (b. 1949) is a "souverainiste": against Europe, against the islamization of France, close the borders, "control" immigration. He is not anti-semitic as LePen is. He didn't run in 2002, but he pulled down about 25% as many votes as the National Front in the 1995 election. According to which poll one looks at, and when, he is pulling down something like 3% to 8% of the vote

/*/Thank you for your input, sir. And as always, please come back./*/

You're quite welcome. Amerloque'll be back. (grin)

Best,
L'Amerloque

superfrenchie said...

LA: /The common market is about 50 or so years old, but even at that, it's not 60.//

The treaty of Paris is 1951. So neither 60 nor 50, but 55, right in between. We'll say we're both right. Or both wrong ;)

//NOTE-I say this because of the pinpoint accuracy you demanded on that one post we debated. If I used that logic I would throw the rest of your comments out, but I will not do that//

Touche! ;)

//I think the single entity or force that has kept Europe at peace for 60 years has been NATO.//

From the Soviet Union, perhaps. Not from its internal divisions. We had been at war with Germany 3 times in less than 70 years. The last one left deep scars, and if it had been up to my grandfather, they would have stayed the mortal enemy. But the generation of my father saw to it that if we had common interests to defend, it would gradually change.

They were right. They changed the world. It would now be hard to find 2 countries that are as close as France and Germany. As an amazing example, Chirac had to leave an EU meeting 2 years ago. He told Schroeder to vote for him. Whatever the vote was about.

From mortal enemy to so much trust as to volontarily relinquish sovereignty. In just 55 years (how's that?) Amazing!

//My problem with the EU is loss of sovereignty//

It's a completely different state of mind than what you are used to here. Most EU countries HAPPILY relinquish sovereignty to the EU. Not all of it, not anything. But some. Because we know all too well the misery that nationalism brought us.

//Yes, but he did make the runoff. He beat out the socialist candidate. I do not know as much about the process as you do, I knew nothing of the signatures he needs to get on the ballot.//

The process is a great one. It is really pitiful that it backfired so badly in 2002.

Essentially, everybody, every party can be a candidate to the presidential election. The only requirement is the 500 signatures from elected officials, and something like 100,000 euros. There are dozens of parties in France (and most countries in Europe)

The election has 2 rounds. In the first one, you can vote for anybody. A runoff between the top 2 candidates is organized 2 weeks later unless one candidate gets the absolute majority in the first round, which never happens.

So in the first round, you vote your conscience. Or you protest against the guy you intend to vote for in the second round by voting for another one. That usually means no mandate! That's good.

The problem is that in 2002, the vote got so fragmented on the left (because people were protesting Jospin's tenure as Prime Minister) that it backfired and 2 people from the right (Chirac and Le Pen) got into the runoff.

Then in the runoff, people who would never have in their wildest dreams voted for Chirac had to do it anyway just to prevent Le Pen from being elected. They also went into the street demonstrating against Le Pen, a million strong! Quite a civic display, if you ask me!

The Amerloque question:

//Are those people all right wing extremists or are they a mixture of left and right?//

The first 2 are extreme right, and the last 2 are extreme left.

But remember that the first round vote can also be a vote of protest. So unlike l'amerloque, I don't necessarily think they represent that much in the population. A lot of people would not have voted for them had there been only one round.

LASunsett said...

SF and l'Amerloque,

Thanks again to both of you for your input and trust me I will be following this election as time goes on. PYY will have extensive coverage of it. France is an anchor nation of Europe, its future will determine the future of the continent and the future of the US as well. Both of us can survive without the other, but it won't be nearly as easy. We really do need each other to prosper and provide safety for our children and grandchildren.