Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 08:50:38 AM EST
This is the end-of-holidays time in France when the political parties start to hold their "summer universities", which basically means a kind of relaxed talk-in at a pleasant seaside spot, during which the participants swan around in summery clothes and show off their tans, before the real political season begins in earnest. The Parti Socialiste kicks off with their "université d'été" in La Rochelle from next Friday.
Ségolène Royal will be meeting her chums in La Rochelle - well, her chums and not-so-chums, the other would-be candidates for next year's presidential election and their supporters being among them - with what looks like a decisive advance in the race towards the primaries in November. Over the last weekend, she spoke at a meeting in Frangy-en-Bresse, Burgundy, where she was invited by Arnaud Montebourg, the leader of the "Sixth Republic" movement, who has rallied to her flag. The point here is that Montebourg and his supporters were for the "non" in the EU Constitution referendum, while Royal was for the "oui" - and the rift in the party base has not yet healed. Before a crowd of several thousand, Royal seemed to get by fairly honourably, while in terms of broader communications, she took another step forward towards the investiture.
***From the front page - whataboutbob
No precise policy statements here, but that would be surprising at this stage. Royal took on a more directly presidential persona, placing herself in the tradition of François Mitterand:
|The candidate took for godfather François Mitterand - from whom Lionel Jospin, author of the "right to inventory", had distanced himself. "I claim to belong to the Mitterand lineage and I'm proud of it," Mme Royal announced. "For me, it's a heritage that matters. And so does my way of going back over it and bringing it up to date." Quoting three priciples dear to the socialist former president - "the duty of unity", "courage", "the need for revolutions in the sense of deep changes" - she concluded: "This is my conception of the exercise of political responsibilty and the role of a head of state."||La candidate s'est placée sous le parrainage de François Mitterrand - avec lequel Lionel Jospin, auteur du "droit d'inventaire", avait pris quelque distance. "Je revendique cette lignée mitterrandienne et j'en suis fière, a lancé Mme Royal. Pour moi, cet héritage compte. Et aussi ma manière de le revisiter, de l'actualiser." Citant trois principes chers à l'ancien président socialiste - "le devoir d'unité", "le courage", "la nécessité de révolutions au sens de changements profonds" -, elle a conclu : "C'est ainsi que je conçois l'exercice de la responsabilité politique et le rôle d'un chef de l'Etat." |
(Le Monde,Ségolène Royal se pose en rassembleuse du PS.
Godfather François ?
So - Mitterand the founder of the present-day PS, the unifier of the movement, the election-winner, the internationally-recognized reference. Royal knows the mileage she's getting, and her claim is well-timed and above all placed, Mitterand's parliamentary electoral base before he was elected president having been, precisely, Burgundy. (Mitterand's quasi-nickname for many years was "le député de la Nièvre", the deputy for the Nièvre, neighbouring département to the one Royal was speaking in). And the local bigwigs got into line to support her: Montebourg, of course, then the regional president, François Patriat (a friend of Mitterand's), and François Rebsamen, mayor of Dijon and N° 2 of the PS after Royal's significant other, François Hollande. (Lot of François's here, but is that surprising in France?)
This call on Mitterand's ghost is important because it underlines Royal's pretention to unite the party and make it a winner again. And it digs a hole under Lionel Jospin, who threw off the Mitterandian mantle, and lost. Meanwhile the two other serious contenders for the investiture, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Jack Lang, were called on today, by none other than François Rebsamen, PS N° 2, to desist in favour of Royal. The call was made with maximum publicity, by an interview in this morning's Le Parisien, followed by a stint on lunchtime TV news.
|"They'll be annoyed, but I wonder if these candidatures are of any interest. They're all legitimate, but I don't see what they bring to the table. They can't win," the mayor of Dijon told Le Figaro.||«Ils vont se vexer, mais je me demande quel est l'intérêt de ces candidatures. Toutes sont légitimes, mais je ne vois pas ce qu'elles apportent. Elles ne peuvent pas gagner», assure au Figaro le maire de Dijon. |
Le Figaro, Le numéro deux du PS réclame un tri entre les candidats.
While Royal places herself more and more obviously as a sine qua non for the PS candidature, she is becoming so more and more for public opinion. The Burgundy weekend was preceded by an IFOP poll for the newspaper Ouest-France, which may turn out to be an outlier (in any case is too far from next year's election to offer a serious forecast), but which shows her extremely capable (and the only left candidate capable) of beating Sarkozy in Round Two:
Ségolène Royal 55% Nicolas Sarkozy 42%
Jack Lang 47% " " 50%
Lionel Jospin 44% " " 53%
D. Strauss-Kahn 42% " " 55%
François Hollande 41% " " 56%
Laurent Fabius 38% " " 58%
For those who find her "rightist", look at her lowest
scores, 46% among retired people
, 50% among shopkeepers and craftsmen
, traditionally conservative groups.
While her highest supporters are: 57% men (hmm, wonder why?), and 70% the 18-25 demographic.
The fact is that she's keeping to generalities for now, and we don't know anything concrete about the kind of policies she would implement. Anyway, she would say it was up to the PS to build a platform, and the government to implement it. And her image and reputation are still fairly solid with a good proportion of the left, or she wouldn't be garnering numbers like these.
Update [2006-8-22 2:9:50 by afew]:An online poll run by Le Monde currently shows this:
Would you say the ideas defended by Ségolène Royal are rather on the left or on the right?
Neither left nor right 31.1%
Don't know 12.8%
Le Monde is generally considered a centre-left paper. There's a degree of uncertainty here, but less than one in five say her ideas are "on the right".
Rocky Sarko Horror Show
Sarkozy has been pushed out of the limelight this summer by the Lebanon war and Chirac's grandstanding. Chirac and Villepin have gained poll points, Sarkozy has lost. His reaction has been to use his position as Interior Minister to launch muscle ops like the one against the big squat in Cachan, and to use the holiday period to move ahead on the future clear-out of immigrant families without papers. But it seems for the moment (as I thought it might), that he is stuck with his hardline base and can't move back out to the centre. Yet another winning move by Royal.