Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sarkozy, Royal Woo Bayrou Voters

The siren is calling. Encase thy sword and follow the distant cry that says, "come to me, come to me, lay down and I will comfort thee". Madame Royal has made her move towards the center, in an effort to pick up the disenchanted Bayrou voters; and she is willing to triangulate somewhat, mainly because she has the most ground to make up, against the front-runner.

Canada.com has the details:

Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal jumped into their presidential run-off campaign Monday by wooing voters who deserted them for a farmer's son who championed the political middle.

Centrist Francois Bayrou didn't make the runoff, but his strong third-place showing in Sunday's first round of balloting could make him a kingmaker if he throws his support behind the law-and-order former interior minister or to the leftist with a chance of being France's first woman president.

Sarkozy wants to be a kinder, gentler kind of politician. Apparently, he can be a little gruff around the edges:

Sarkozy, who courted the far right during his campaign and is criticized by many for abrasive language, sought to soften his image as he appealed to voters in the middle, casting himself as "the candidate of openness."

"Openness of spirit is being able to take into consideration the positions of others, the ability to think that others might be right," he said at a rally in an eastern city, Dijon.

I'm sorry. But I do not recall DeGaulle being soft or gentle. And the last time I checked, he was still a hero. So what this has to do with running a country, I will never know.

But be that as it may, Bayrou is in a good position for both the short and the long-term. He can greatly influence this election in the short and with his new found name recognition (if he is smart), he can parlay this into a force or maybe even a movement, in the long-term scheme of things. But for now, the moment to be kingmaker has arrived. He holds the keys to the kingdom right now, and do not think for one minute that both Sego and Sarko do not know it. Just who will be giving the most, will be revealed in the coming days.

From the sounds of things, it may be a bit harder for Royal, even though some of Bayrou's support came from some of those disenchanted on the left:

Royal, who previously dismissed calls for an alliance with Bayrou, reached out to him Monday, saying she was available for a public dialogue.

"It is my responsibility to make this overture," she told supporters in the southern city of Valence. "I'm awaiting a response."

It's not good to turn your back on someone you may need later. I am sure that in hindsight, this now looks like a miscalculation on her part. Worse yet, she sounds like she knows she may still not get it. Note the emphasis on "I am awaiting a response". Like, Bayrou owes her something? It should be understood that not much context is given here, other than what we see. We cannot hear tone inflections in the print media, so I would caution against drawing the conclusion based solely on this. But, in the print media, it could be interpreted that she really expects something here. She will need to watch how she words things, from here on out.

That's one thing, but we have to consider other things as well. This thing may not only turn out to be a love-fest towards Bayrou, but may get to be a personality contest between the two remaining candidates:

Political analyst Dominique Moisi agreed: "There are very few 'extra troops' so to speak for Segolene Royal. The only thing she can dream for is to turn this election into a referendum against the personality of Nicolas Sarkozy."

That sounds like one thing the French election process has in common with it's American counterpart. When you cannot win the free exchange of ideas, you get personal. But what Sego needs to realize is, there are people that would be willing to complain about her management style too. In her campaign early on, her reputation suffered somewhat due to some problems along this line. Rumors have circulated on occasions that she is a micromanaging autocrat, as is her opponent.

So, I guess this should come as no surprise that both would have to tread lightly on making this an issue, at this late point in the game. If it didn't matter before, it's not going to matter now. But, if things start to go south for either candidate, I wouldn't be surprised if the gloves came off a bit.

But for now, it appears it's all about "establisment types" kissing someone's derrière. And that would be a "non-establishment type" someone named Francois Bayrou.


L'Amerloque said...

Hi LASunsett !

Actually M Bayrou is in something of a cleft stick, here.

In Amerloque's view, he must pursue what the French call a "ni-ni" policy (pronounced "knee knee) (from "ni l'un, ni l'autre", which means "neither one nor the other") in order to keep his political credibility intact and be some kind of force for the next presidential elections in 2012. If he comes out for Mme Royal, he loses any credibility with the center and the right, while if he comes out for M Sarkozy, ditto for the left (these are pretty doctrinaire people, here).

So for the next 10 days or so there probably will be a lot of hemming and hawing around, a lot of soundbytes and talking heads, about M Bayrou and his putative leanings or choices - and then a couple days before election, M Bayrou will simply say "I believe those who voted for me should make their own choices, so I'm not recommending a particular candidate." It's the only smart thing to do. (smile) At least that's how Amerloque reads it, today. But the week moves on … five more representatives of M Bayrou's party have jumped ship since the election, declaring for Sarkozy.

Interesting article over at the Daily Telegraph:

// …/… I'm afraid I am inclined to share Le Pen's analysis. A nasty piece of work, but a smart fellow, he was on good, rancorous form after his drubbing. "The French prefer the appearance of change to real change" was his parting shot at his countrymen, who had failed to live up to his elevated chauvinistic standards. Applied to French politics in general, I suspect his remark is true. …/… //



PS: Amerloque thanks LASunsett for the compliments and links, by the way: Amerloque appreciates them ! (and is working on two sick projects simultaneously … = not much free time )

LASunsett said...

Hello Amerloque,

//If he comes out for Mme Royal, he loses any credibility with the center and the right, while if he comes out for M Sarkozy, ditto for the left (these are pretty doctrinaire people, here).//

Good point, sir. I think he'd be smart to look at the long-term, rather than the instant gratification that would be found in swinging one one way or the other for this one. If that is his choice, he must build his party up further and get more seated into parliament and other elected positions.

That's a bit tougher on this side of the pond, where the two party-system has a stranglehold on the government. I think the time is right here, but it's such an uphill battle, it will be virtually impossible. Even if a centrist candidate were to get elected to the White House, he/she would have no support in Congress, and essentially both psrties would gang up and work against him/her.

//Amerloque thanks LASunsett for the compliments and links//

You are most welcome, sir.

Greg said...

L'Amerloque's observations on French politics are always helpful. What a relief to read that it looks like Sarkozy will win. It's time for France and America to remember we're friends and have too much in common to be butting heads constantly. I won't miss tht vacuous thief, Chirac, but frankly, I think Royal would be even worse - dangerous in fact.

ms. miami said...

It's time for France and America to remember we're friends

greg- i don't think that the friendship was ever lost. the best friends you can have are honest and tell you when you're goofing up.

LASunsett said...


//I think Royal would be even worse - dangerous in fact.//

Anytime a politician gives credibility to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, that same politician is bad for France, America, and/or the world.

LASunsett said...


//i don't think that the friendship was ever lost. the best friends you can have are honest and tell you when you're goofing up.//

You might be right, but I also think that it comes down to how you present your feelings to your friend that may be screwing up.

If you moralize, when your own house is a mess, it comes off much worse and will not be effective. If I am your friend and think you are making a mistake, I will not persuade you by announcing to the world that you are making a mess out of your life and undermining your every move with negative rhetoric (much of it behind your back).

Greg said...

My point on Franco-American relations is in reference to the 2 candidates' proposals on foreign policy. One says he wants to work with America to help advance France's interests. The other says France needs to "counter" America. The latter seems to have been Chirac's approach, at least on some issues. Allies don't seek to undermine one another.

ms. miami said...

greg- yes they didn't mince words, but i imagine that much was discussed behind closed doors before the french government began speaking publically against the bush plan.

also, i would argue that "messes" are relative. they have riots, we have katrina...

JPH said...

I think LA you forget how the french was for US people ! A kind of sub-human ! French people told you :" don't go to Iraq it will be a nightmare". Bush siad. : " french are cowards, with friends like that who need ennemies, with us or against us etc ..". Time for USA to know what is a friendly relationship, I mean, a true one.More than 3000 US young soldiers would be alive today. By the way, there is nothing in your press about our hostages in Afghnaistan... They want our troops out of Afghanistan. I think France will do nothing for them. But ,, yeah..nothing in your so called free press ! Would be a shame to have some kind of solidarity with these french monkeys ! We are not sub-human !

LASunsett said...


//Bush siad. : " french are cowards, with friends like that who need ennemies, with us or against us etc .."//

When and where did Bush say that the French were cowards? If you find a link, you can tiny url it and I will look at it. Until then, I would say this assertion you put forth, is false.

greg said...

JP, there is plenty in the US press about the French hostages if you want to find it. Keep in mind that there is enough news in this country to fill up any nightly news cast (eg., Britney just shaved her crotch - breaking news ;)), so sometimes the international stories get lost. But they are there.

I pray for the hostages' safe return, and I know coaltion troops (probably including French special forces - I don't think Chirac's order to remove all of them has been completed yet) are working hard to find them. Actually, incidents like those illustrate the savage nature of our common enemy - totalitarian islamists. France needs to keep its fighting force there so we can crush them together.

BTW, you hear a lot, esp on the left, about the supposed lack of a free press in the US. Do you guys read the papers? My God! In addition to being nearly 100% negative on the President, they have published state secrets with impugnity. It is hard to imagine the press being more "free" (of course, they are imprisoned in their own ideology, so in a way, they aren't free).

Rocket said...

"greg- i don't think that the friendship was ever lost. the best friends you can have are honest and tell you when you're goofing up."

I must be missing the big picture here. Would one want a best friend who doesn't agree with you to go out beating the drum amongst other common friends as to undermine the first(as Greg said).

America and France are friends. PERIOD. Nothing more nothing less. America is also friends with Italy; Ireland and Britain and etc, not to mention others and those above named countries have more in common with America first by their immigration and participation in the building of our great nation and secondly by the English language in the case of Britain and Ireland than France could ever hope for and you can talk about Yorktown all you want until you become blue in the face. The majority of the English fleet was in the channel protecting against an invasion from France. There is a group of people who exercise a certain political correctness to pretend that the US and France have a special relationship or even a lovers relationship and all of this is a sort of marriage spat. Well if the memories or Normandy are finshed so is Yorktown. Sorry but the divorce was pronounced in 1967 and they've been fighting over the kids ever since.

I don't believe France should bend over in front of American politics and the French are free to elect who they like and have the politics that they like. They did a marvelous job of playing off the two superpowers until the fall of the wall. But there is one thing that is unacceptable in my opinion and that is the lesson giving for which they are so well known, not only to the US but to the rest of the world.

Let's consider Chirac's comments about les bruits et les odeurs, Edith Cresson and the Japanese are ants, Chirac again on Eastern Europe keeping their mouth shut, Degaulle and "le peuple d'elite, sur de lui-meme et dominateur " meaning the Jews and I can go on but will spare you the daily rants as reported in the local press over the years.

"A great country worthy of the name does not have any friends".
Charles de Gaulle


All this talk of special relationship. Where does it come from. I don't think many Americans nor French believe this. It's an infinite minority who want to hang with the in crowd just like back n high school and when the cool kid on the block doesn't listen to the wanabee, the wanabee goes ballistic or should I say gaullistic.

IMHO - We are friends and part time allies, but never lovers who share the same bed nor would we want to be.

PS - I was listening to Christian Mallard of France 3 on cnn the night of the elections. He spoke of how when asked a question about the French hostages in Afghanistan; S. Royal remarked that France would ahve to negotiate this with the Taliban government. When reminded by a jounalists that the Taliban had been chaed from power in 2001 with french participation she turned and avoided the reporter and went to the next question without even correcting herself.

Yes, to a woman president in France! No! to that woman president!

And she still has a chance of winning the big piñata, I kid you not.