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José Bové Wades Into the Fray

by afew Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 08:43:13 AM EST


Environmentalist Nicolas Hulot having (predictably) pulled out of the race, there was no "civil society" candidate left in the running for the first round of the French presidential election. Hulot's departure left an opening that the anti-globalisation figurehead José Bové filled this morning by announcing his candidature.

Bové's candidature sets the cat among the pigeons on the left. He's not strictly an environmental candidate (though the environment and particularly agriculture figure high on his list of preoccupations). More broadly, he's an anti-liberal (economic sense) who hopes to federate a whole slew of un-organized non-party lefties. He's not ATTAC, but he could well be supported by ATTAC. His views are more global than those of any other candidate on the left (on the right, natch -- whatever pro-capitalist global ideas they may have, they keep quiet about anyway).

The non-PS left never got together a single candidature (as I predicted), partly because they couldn't all agree that the candidate should be Bové, partly because the un-organized left was really too unorganized and strung out in "networks" that showed how weak networks can be without a minimum of well-conceived formal construction and communication. So we have Arlette Laguiller for Lutte Ouvrière (firm declaration from the start, LO is a sect that would never have joined the others anyway), Olivier Besancenot for the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, Marie-George Buffet for the Parti Communiste Français, and Dominique Voynet for les Verts (insofar as they're non-PS, which is debateable...). And now José Bové for the "anti-liberals".


Bové says he hopes to bring in voters who would otherwise abstain, and he may well be right about that. He is clear about calling his voters to support Royal in the second round of the election, which the Trots (LO, LCR) can be counted on to fudge. Where opinions differ, is on his effect on the first round. How much will he weaken the Trots and Communists? How much les Verts? How much, if at all, Ségolène Royal?

Polls for the moment award him anywhere from 1% to 3%. Besancenot is credited with 3.5%, Buffet 3.5%, Laguiller 2.5%, and Dominique Voynet just manages to reach 2%, in the poll that gives Bové 1%. There are plenty of Greens that like Bové, and Green voters may well leave Voynet for a candidate with more fighting spirit. Laguiller is unlikely to lose support, but Besancenot may well lose quite a lot. The LCR remains divided between those who wanted the apparatus candidate (Besancenot) and those who wanted a "single candidature". Same thing with the PCF. There are party figures in both cases who will stand up for Bové. So it's not just a case of Bové peeling off votes, it's a case of splitting parties. Only the sect LO is likely to come through unscathed.

And Royal? Royal's candidature is going through a very bad patch. After making the early running, she, her campaign, and the Parti Socialiste seemed totally unprepared for the real fighting that would come when Sarkozy became officially candidate. He remains head of his party, the UMP, he remains Number Two of the government and Minister of the Interior, controlling the police and the organisation of elections, and he is paying no political price for this because he sewed up the media long ago, and the media are not saying this accumulation of power in the hands of a candidate is inappropriate and undemocratic, they are saying: "Oh, look, Ségolène Royal said something silly! Again..." [subtext: woman, almost blonde].

Sarkozy's power to run his campaign like this was well-known in advance, yet the Socialists seem to have been taken by surprise, still wasting energy on internal conflict when they needed to stand firm. Result, polls show Royal dropping to under 30% in Round One, and losing clearly in Round Two.

Will Bové help or hinder? In my view, it's the Socialists and Royal that have to get their act together. That will be decisive. Bové will not. Personally, I have a great deal of sympathy for what he has to say, and look forward to the pugnacity he'll bring to the campaign.

If his candidature goes through... The rules say you must have 500 signatures from elected officials (at least mayors) for your candidature to be accepted. Bové is not sure to get them. He has currently gathered in 200, according to Libération. Arlette Laguiller will have her 500 as usual, and the PCF will easily rustle up 500 for Buffet, but Besancenot seems to be stuck at round the 400 mark. There may be surprises to come yet...

Display:
This should be interesting.

I just finished a diary with charts of the last month's polling on the French Presidential race.  In the only poll where Hullot was included, he drew 11% reducing the vote shares of both Sarkozy and Royal.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 08:49:35 AM EST
Yes. Did you see my article about Hulot? (linked above). He's now out of the race, but that doesn't mean Bové can pick up all his "poll points". There are people who watch Hulot's TV show and think he's nice, but who just hate Bové...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 08:54:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm nursing a hangover, so my coherence might not be very good yet.  I have to wonder how much Bove will poll?  10%, and does he pull from Royal?  If so can he force Royal below 20%, and can Baryou pull off an upset 2nd place showing in the first round?

I'm seeing that it's possible (not probable, though) that Bove's entry could force Royal into third place.  Didn't Le-Pen get into the second round in 2002?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:04:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I seriously doubt this. Hulot's 10 or 11% were largely goodwill points because he's a well-known TV personality. The fact that Hulot pulled out left room for Bové, but I'd be very surprised to see Bové reach 10%.

As I say above, he's likely to take votes from Buffet and Besancenot, and also Voynet. And also some from Royal, no doubt. But Royal will only miss the second round if she screws up her campaign.

If it did happen that Royal slipped out of sight and wasn't in the second round, I'd see Le Pen there, not Bayrou.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:13:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, a second round where we'd all be rooting for Sarko. What a great prospect that would be.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:15:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where we'd be seriously looking at buying an island to found ETopia...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:22:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, Barbara and I are scouting Southern Bohemia for a location for ETopia...

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:26:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sealand

Currently up for lease for those in need of fully sovereign real estate.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:34:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be great for Distopia.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:35:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And where would we grow the carrots?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:42:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tht would be great. We'd be real Bohemians instead of fakes.

And, who knows, we might find an island off the coast.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:35:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was the irony I was aiming at.

It happened in 2002, and that was Le-Pen vs Chirac.

I'm seeing this trend that Bayrou is rising, and Le-Pen is falling.

I think that Afew is right though, that the Socialist vote is fairly solid.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:25:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Le Pen in the second round, but against SR. She will benefit from the "guilt vote" of the lefties that do not want a repeat of 2002 (with or without a unified hard left candidate, but even more if there are several candidates)

On the right, Sarko is not liked by many, and is squeezed nicely between Bayrou and Le Pen, not to mention sovereignist Dupont-Aignan who will grab a few %.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:32:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup.

I don't know anybody in my little procuration circle who intends to vote the same was as in 2002.

(Have to admit to liking Bove a lot, but I don't think the person I gave procuration to would actually do that, even if I would, which I wouldn't.)

by redstar on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 10:45:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'procuration circle' - what is that?
by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 04:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absentee ballot is a "procuration" in France. And the circle is my immediate circle of friends, many of whom are French here in the frozen tundra of Minneapolis (quite a community, big university town).

Quite a few of us voted (well, myself and three others I know) in the first round for someone other than Jospin and none of us will vote against Royal this time because of what happened.

When you vote absentee in France, it's not like in the US where you just mail in your ballot from wherever you are and it gets counted in the state you used to live. You give your vote to someone you trust to go and vote for you by "procuration," and that person needs to be registered in the same commune as you.

Important thing is trust. You give your vote, and you count on that person to vote the way you want them to. In my case this time, I changed from 2002 the person, and I know very well the person who's voting for me would not vote for someone other than Royal. That's part of the deal. But at least, I am 100% sure he will vote, which wasn't totally the case last time (though she told me she did later...)

It's sort of a pain. One has to sign a procuration form,  in front of an official who is authorized to do procurations (like someone at city hall if you are in France but won't be for the vote, or a consular officer). This sounds relatively easy but if you don't happen to live anywhere near a consulate and it's been a year or more since you've been back in France, it's not as easy as it sounds. I live in Minneapolis and we had someone show up one day at the Alliance Francaise to take them for us, "notarizing" them properly and forwarding them to the consulate. But if I couldn't make it to see him, this would mean I'd likely need to go to Chicago. Big pain. (It's worse for my wife - she made the mistake of changing her voter registration when she registered as an expat at the consulate, and now she needs to vote in Chicago or find a french person there who'll vote for her...)

by redstar on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 05:42:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'procuration circle'

Geez, I was going to respond to Marek with some snarky nonsense about Frenchy crop circles but decided to err on the side of maturity instead.  But after reading this comment, I've gotta say, crop circles sound rather reality-based in comparison.

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

by p------- on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 06:27:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have I told you how much I enjoy pie?
by redstar on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 06:40:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know what the hell that's about.  I was trying to sympathize with you and your bizarro absentee voting rules...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 08:17:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I like pie" is a way of ducking out of an argument, a flame war, a... pie fight.

I used it here in Drew's diary about smoking, to signify I wasn't going to get into an fight about smoking again.

I suppose redstar was just saying he wasn't into a debate about the merits or demerits of proxy or absentee voting systems...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 2nd, 2007 at 02:48:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ditto to most of what afew said.

Apologize if I misread your comment. I did not take it as intended.

by redstar on Fri Feb 2nd, 2007 at 11:20:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.  I had no interest in a pie fight...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Fri Feb 2nd, 2007 at 11:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about calling it "vote by proxy"? Would that make it less weird?

In Spain, absentee voting is just postal voting. I actually liked it so much while I was in the US that I decided to register to vote by mail in the UK local elections, too.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 2nd, 2007 at 11:29:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
to your diary:http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2007/2/1/84454/93415

I was thinking that we did not have enough coverage of the French campaign, and now we have two excellent stories...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:10:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing is, there was a lot of jockeying, and intimidation, by the institutional players to try to scare away the more popular amateurs. Thus the early announcements by Besancenot and Buffet.

Having Bové in formally might encourage them to drop out. Voynet (because the Greens are currently inaudible and ridiculous given the favorable context) and Besancenot (becasue he was open to the idea) are possibles, and Buffet might be convinced (also to avid an humiliating flop). They all agree that there is a need for a single alt-left candidate, but they all want to be it. Bové has more popular appeal, and probably more legitimacy outside of the "apparatuses" - but as you point out, they do matter.

Who does get the 500 signatures will matter a lot.

(Laguiller is outside of al this, I agree, but she will lose votes if there is a superior - i.e. unique - alternative on the hard left)

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:14:29 AM EST
Laguiller is already polling lower than in previous elections. With a credible hard-left alternative, LO might finally get cooked, and a good thing too.

The problem for Buffet and Besancenot (Buffet et Bontemps mean anything to you?) is precisely their respective apparatus, it seems to me. A split in the PCF is really possible if she stands down. And she doesn't have a signature problem.

Whereas Besancenot... does have a signature problem, and probably less hard opposition within le Ligue to his standing down.

Bové's candidature does, I agree, have that logic. He's out to get at least Besancenot to quit.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 09:30:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The PCF split continues, it's been a long time in the works. I'm disappointed that Buffet is running. The party's redressement in regional elections was how the party was being reconstructed as a national party. Not this way, and so it's possible Buffet will do some damage by being a candidate, we'll see.

As for activists, that bleeding has been going on for quite some time. Probably too much cooperation with the PS, especially the way the PS was in the '90's.

Imho would have been wiser to play it safe and sit this one out like in '74 and concentrate on rebuilding at the cantonal and regional level. Might've earned some credit by backing one of the anti-liberal candidates (though seems to me Bove was a bit too coy for a bit too long, and, well, Arlette is Arlette, fun to watch in action but seriously...) and grown the activist base, or at least the loyalty of many anti-liberal activists.

Oh well, she can't do worse than Hue. Not that that means anything - by not running, she would have of course done better.

by redstar on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 11:12:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know exactly what went on in the tractations at first, except that the Communists and the others were pretty much at cross purposes.

I think Bové didn't accept the conditions he would have had to for Buffet to get the Party to agree. As for Arlette, afaik there was never any question of her being the single candidate. She announced long before anyone else that she was LO's candidate and that was that.

I expect Buffet will go ahead rather than break the apparatus. Besancenot... Suppose he can't get his signatures and Bové can't get his either... There'd surely be support at the LCR for pooling sigs on Bové's name...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 02:21:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was going to diary on this awhile back, Marianne had a good article on what happened at the "Congress" of the anti-liberal left back when it happened, but the article wasn't on the web (print only) so it was sorta a pain in the butt too get it up (though you did similar with the attac social justice piece, i know....)

Probably will do so in future if you don't first, but only if anything changes. All the polling numbers are pretty low for hte LO, PCF and LCR, we'll see what Bove's entry does but my guess is not much.  

by redstar on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 02:45:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I strongly doubt that Buffet would consider withdrawing. The main concern of the Communist Party is to keep what still makes its (relative) political strength: its elected representatives at local level (municipalities and departments) and in the parliament. They can do so only if they have the support of the Socialist Party. Even if their score is low in the first round, they have something to bargain. If they join Bové, they might jeopardise their position in the following local elections.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Feb 2nd, 2007 at 03:26:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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