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French Socialists: live blogging

by Alex in Toulouse Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 02:44:32 PM EST

Tonight starts part I of the internal Socialist debates, between all 3 candidates for the presidential elections.

Tonight's debate is televised on LCP (which I'm watching), but there is also a webcast on LCP's website  (which seems saturated)
Part I will be about Economic and Social matters.


Display:
Question 1:
"Why are you candidate to the Presidency?"

Here I would say that Ségolène Royal was most convincing. She sounded like a mother trying to reassure her children. Dominique Strauss-Khan (DSK for short) was political. Fabius was false.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 02:46:19 PM EST
It's a vital political question, and from what you say Royal is way ahead of the other two yet again.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:27:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Question 2:
"What is your diagnostic of the state of France?"

DSK: "My goal is full employment within 10 years [..] I understand that people are worried, even youths as we saw with the CPE [..] Oil is running out [..] The Right has been disastrous [..] We need to invest to prepare the future [..] Our strongest strengh is within us"

Fabius: "I would use 2 words: precarity, and veering off [..] There are more and more homeless [..] For the first time parents are saying that their kids will have a harder time than they did [..] Past capitalism was industrial and national, today's capitalism is global and hyperfinancial [..] We are not declining, we have an inner strengh, our grandparents have overcome harder hardships"

Royal: "I agree with veering off, and I would add a certain depression and a spiral of misery [..] GDP does not evaluate real wealth [..] We need to change the way we look at the Economy [..] Added value is not wealth, as it may destroy the environment [..] this is why current ways of seeing the Economy are no longer valid"

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 02:54:18 PM EST
What was "veering off" in French?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:03:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I had no idea how to translate that, and I have to type while I listen so can't look it up in my dictionary. It's "décrochage"?
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:07:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"dropping out"? Meaning, I suppose, of the workforce...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:19:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's more about the state of France, so I'm not sure how to say it.
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:21:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then it would be "getting outpaced", "getting left behind".
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:25:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Question 3:
"Is current growth good? (and how can growth be increased)"

Fabius: "growth is weak in Europe and in France, compared to the rest of the world [..] social matters must feed growth and justice, and a stronger purchasing power [..]
I propose a law of ecological planning for energy [..] the number 2 in government should be responsible for energy" (my opinion: was average, paddled in deep water at some point)

Royal: "we need to reinvest in work, investment and environment [..] on one hand 3 million french people are unemployed, and on the other hand some companies are undermanned [..] professional training is important [..] we would have benefits in social accounts (and not deficits) if we followed Denmark's example [..] investment too [..] environment is essential, many jobs could be created in the environment if we focused on it [..]" (my opinion: was not very convincing, but stuck to a plan)

DSK: "what we need today, is confidence. French people are not confident. if there is no confidence, there is no growth [..] confidence [..] to create confidence we need to hold a huge round of negotiations on purchasing power, pensions, etc, creating a pact that binds the president [..] so first of all, regain confidence through negotiation [..] debt is not good, because then you pay interests. if you're a liberal then you don't care because you don't want the state to interfere, but I care" (my opinion => sounded like a salesman)

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:07:22 PM EST
Royal answered the previous question with "GDP doesn't evaluate real wealth", but did not follow up in her answer to this question by challenging it.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 05:51:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok I simply won't be able to type in all the questions. I'll stick to commenting like I would a sports match.

And as I say that Ségolène Royal pulls out the first diagram of the show! (map of France showing the power of regions - while arguing that France is the sum of its regions)

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:09:08 PM EST
She mentions that she would fully instate micro-credit, giving 2 to 10 thousand euros to people with a sound company project.
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:11:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DSK is asked how he intends to bring about full employment. He says "employment is growth, if there is no growth, there is no employment [..] we need to massively invest in the industry and in research" (doesn't really give an answer)
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:13:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So far I would sum it up as follows:

DSK wants to imitate Sarkozy (tries to look ultra-confident, economically modern etc)

Fabius is a bit confused, probably because he doesn't really know how much he should try to seduce the extreme-left.

Royal is probably the most passionate, but talks longer than others (gets scolded by the hosts). It's hard to tell whether she's talking from the heart or a very good comedian reciting her notes. If it's the first, she'll have convinced a lot of people tonight (after 30 minutes of debate). If not, she'll be like DSK.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:16:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My appreication may be short-lived, as time passes the candidates are becoming less hazy and feel more at ease:

Fabius is starting to pull off a harder left rhetoric, but still speaks slowly.

DSK is becoming more passionate, speaks faster, but still has a liberal-tinted tone.

Royal speaks at the same rate, neither fast nor slow, seems tranquil.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:30:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Royal wants to make delocalisations illegal for companies that yield profits.
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:30:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Explaining that any company that yields profits can innovate and, if ushered the right way, can create truly social added value. So it doesn't need to delocalise!
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:32:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OOOOooooooh what a Blairiste!!!!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:33:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I heard DSK say elsewhere the other day that what was needed was to get growth going so there'd be something to redistribute. He went down in my opinion right away. (If that's all he can come up with...)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:23:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fabius invents the concept "delocaliser - payer" (paraphrasing "polluter - payer")
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:25:30 PM EST
The 35 hour week comes up in the debate.
The host asks "to earn more, shouldn't people work more?"

Fabius: "this is Sarkozyst rhetoric [..] there is an ultrafinancialocapitalist tendency to ... [..] our strength is in Europe, but not just every Europe, not a Europe based on free trade but with an industrial policy, with a euro policy, with an external trade policy".

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:37:44 PM EST
DSK is the gentleman. He's the only one so far to name his "opponents" to flatter them constantly  ... "Fabius created 2 million jobs when he was prime minister, so of course the Left can do it" ... "yes we must increase the SMIC (minimum wage), but like Royal rightly says we would then need to be vigilant that there are price increases right after, so we need to have a huge negotiation between everyone and everyone"
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that there are no price increases (ie. no point in raising minimum salaries if right after that prices increase everywhere)
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:50:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ultrafinancialocapitalist

???

And I thought German was full of long words.

But you're doing a stellar job, Alex. Have a penguin. In fact, have two.

by Nomad on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 06:50:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I typed while I listened, had 2 phone calls in the middle, and alternately tried to catch glimpses of the football match when I could, so I cannot guarantee 100% of the content I typed. But it should be at least 99% accurate. (for instance I was surprised to read on Libération that DSK pointed to 2 millioin jobs created when Jospin was in power, not Fabius ... I'm quite sure I heard Fabius, and even typed that here. But then maybe the Libération guy was watching 2 matches, receiving 20 phones calls, and typing while listening too ...).
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 07:16:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aha, the BBC says Fabius mentioned "global financial hyper-capitalism". So it should not have been "ultrafinancialocapitalism" but "global hyperfinancialcapitalism"
by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Oct 18th, 2006 at 07:14:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Question:
"What can be done about inequalities in salary between men and women?"

DSK - starts talking about inequalities, saying there are more and more, repeats the same thing he said earlier about using the wrong methodology in the past, and then gets to men and women ... saying that we need to prevent inequalities before capitalism creates them: "something must be done about this particularly horrible one between men and women, we won't be able to solve all inequalities in 5 years" (but we'll get some).

What about you Fabius? Maybe you could even start with parity in your government?

Fabius - "Yes, I have in fact promised it, my government will have as many men as women [..] i would fight against imposed part time [..] for instance in companies, very early in the morning, 4am, it's often women who clean up ... which means they cannot have dinner with their children, this is what I mean by imposed part time [..] increase allocations towards women"

What about you Royal, do you think the 35 hours are responsible here? You seemed to be criticizing them ...

Royal - "the 35 hour week constituted a great progress for many, but a regression for some [..] it needs to always be a factor of social progress, so in sectors where it hasn't been, it will have to be adapted. I'm not saying it's a mistake, it's created a great amount of jobs, has increased productivity and is a true social progress, I am only saying that in cases where it didn't lead to job creations, it created social regression"

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:04:46 PM EST
Royal concludes with: "I don't want to use formulas and always say that everything we've done is good. It's in this context that we need to be extremely demanding and require that the 35 hour week be a social progress for everyone"
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:07:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A question comes up about pensions. I can't remember what Fabius said but it sounded ok (I had switched for a minute to watch the football match). Then comes Royal: she says "we have the highest >50 year old unemployment rate in the OECD, and you're telling me we have a pension problem"
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:11:56 PM EST
(retirement pensions)
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:12:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DSK, how would you finance additional costs for retirement pensions? Through taxes?

DSK - "Baaa you're here thinking that France is here with its millions of unemployed people, with its low growth, and with its strict budget as if that was the end of it ...!!"

So you're basing everything on growth?

DSK - "but life is growth!! growth will come back, we've done it in the past"

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:17:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And Royal said (back up there) that GDP did not mean real wealth...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:22:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know, it's weird, my hard left friends tell me she's right-wing, DSK is centrist, and Fabius is fake true left.
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:24:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh well. The hard left will just have to come up with a good hard-left single candidature...

What? They're going to field four or five candidates? Splitters!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:30:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about the Health sector?

Royal - "I find it unacceptable that there are such territorial inequalities in access to health [..] I find it unacceptable that in some rural parts of France a woman for instance needs to wait several months to see a gynecologist [..] on the basis that the state pays for a part of the training of medical students, we could implement a directive that would force medical students, like is the case in other professions, to spend a part of their professional life in rural areas [..] I would generally give health a more localised approach, opening tiny clinics, focusing on proximity and thus prevention, and this would greatly reduce the sector's debt"

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:23:20 PM EST
DSK - "health expenses do not need to be controlled as they are one of the best promises for growth that we have for the next 40 years!"
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:25:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So Fabius, all three of you seem to agree on a lot of points, so what really makes you different?

Fabius - "well have you noticed that we were all 3 socialists (grins). But let me summarize what I think on the Health issue. I agree with Royal when she uses concrete examples to show that we can make improvements here and there and I'm happy that she re-used a proposition I made a long time ago and that everyone had refused back then, concerning territorial inequalities and medical students [..] and I agree with DSK that the health issue will be essential to the future, these expenses will keep on increasing, and it's normal, we will live longer, we will find more expensive and effective techniques [..] I believe we need to focus on public research here"

Fabius is thus the first to take a swipe at one of the opponents, as soon as the host invited him to show why he's different.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:30:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok I'll conclude with my personal opinion, as the debate comes to an end.

Fabius seems to be highly intelligent, gifted with an impressive synthetic capacity. However, it it impossible to know what the man wants, what he believes in, and since he oscillates in his speech between soft socialism and hard-left rhetoric, it's even harder to know. It's a pity the man has no firm shape, as he could have been a great leader. Has srong Keynesian touches at times.

DSK comes through as an economist, and something of a corporate manager. He is also clearly intelligent, but I would say somewhat less than Fabius (who seems out of this world). He really is a social-democrat, which to me means a centrist. This man is a Blairite I would say. Would probably do a good job as president though, but would not prepare France for the end of this age.

Royal comes through as a mother, no matter how hard she tries to shake it off. She sends the message that she is here to change our diapers, to make us all live with dignity. She is a sound reasoner, ie. doesn't seem to get caught in her own reasoning traps. She is definitely a believer in all things small and regional and local, and makes you feel that she would be your favourite mayor. As a president, I don't know. She has the charisma and the confidence, but does she see the big picture? She puts forward some arguments that seem to show she does, but when she does it's her own big picture, which seems quite contrary to established ideas.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:43:04 PM EST
I'm not watching the post-debate analysis between experts (they will also quote political figures).

Two experts so far say that Ségolène Royal seems to have consolidated her lead as the other candidates were stereotyped. DSK was said to be elegant but avoid answering some questions. Fabius was "all to the left" but nothing clear. While Royal, a less talented speaker, always talked to "all French people" and "accepted to recognize past errors".

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:52:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another expert summarizes it as follows:

The socialists are winners because they organised this debate.

Fabius came through as hard left.
DSK came through as a manager.
Royal came through as a simple, pragmatic person.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:55:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another expert says she incarnates a new Left that doesn't want to believe experts, a bit naive, a bit like Rocard, and when she says that she doesn't have an answer to everything she hits home with the average French person.

One said she is basically managing her popularity.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:58:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Royal as president / Strauss-Kahn as competent prime minister option seems increasingly likely (and has been commented upon favorably in the business press, I think even in the FT)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 18th, 2006 at 04:28:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does Fabius get a ministry, too, if he does not run for President outside the PS?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 18th, 2006 at 04:40:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for all the work you put into this, Alex!!

I'd also like to hear the impressions of anyone else who watched the debate.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 06:52:38 PM EST
Many thanks for doing this, Alex. Sorry I did not join, I crashed to bed really early yesterday.

Great summary.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 18th, 2006 at 04:27:31 AM EST


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