by Jerome a Paris
Mon Feb 12th, 2007 at 04:29:19 AM EST
Today was the big day for Ségolène Royal - the day she unveiled her programme, ending her "listening phase" and entering fully the campaign. Worries have been expressed that her campaign was losing out to Sarkozy, because of her supposed "gaffes" (controversial foreign policy pronouncements, or her use of inexistent words), discord within the Socialist Party, and Sarkozy's perceived dynamism, all self-reinforcing as the mass media mindlessly repeated it on and on.
afew had a couple of diaries on this recently, and I can only invite you to go revisit them (all the links at the end of the diary - I've dug most of the diaries in the past 18 months on ET on the French presidential campaign), and today's speech was beginning to be seen as a "last chance" to change the campaign dynamics.
I was invited to attend her meeting (as a blogger) but could not make it, so this is only based on comments by others, but the general tone seems, so far, quite favorable within France, and quite nasty in the English language press as she dared - gasp - present a political programme on the left. The New York Times wins the prize for the most dishonest title with Socialist candidate in France unveils far-left platform
This was a typical "before" article:
With just 10 weeks to go until the election's first round, Royal still has no platform. She has made gaffes on international affairs, and her popularity with intellectuals and ordinary voters alike has slipped, leaving conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy at the top of the polls.
Royal, 53, will take a big gamble Sunday in unveiling, at last, some of her plans for France in a platform speech that will be judged by especially tough standards because she has waited so long to make it.
Until now Royal has been in a ``listening phase'' of her campaign, collecting ideas during debates and on her Internet site, where people post 2,500 messages a day. That strategy has given her an image as a rare French politician in touch with the problems of ordinary people.
But it has also left many wondering whether the former environment minister's listening is a cover-up for a lack of concrete ideas.
This is a typical "after" article:
Royal signals shift to the left
Ségolène Royal on Sunday unveiled a 100-point plan for reforming France, signalling a clear shift to the left. The socialist presidential candidate promised the government would be more interventionist in the economy and do more to defend the country's generous social model.
The surprisingly detailed "presidential pact" is based on feedback from 6,200 debates across the country for three months. It promises ambitious reforms in the economy, education, social security, immigration and environment, which Ms Royal said would make France "fairer and stronger".
In Ms Royal's battle to become the first woman president of France, she has chosen to paint herself as the candidate who will defend France's generous social model against the threats of globalisation and economic liberals, notably Nicolas Sarkozy, her centre-right rival for the presidency.
Herald Tribune / New York Times (without the dismissive title)
"With me, politics will never again happen without you," a combative Royal, 53, told the crowd of flag-waving supporters wearing her logo on T-shirts and stickers. "Today I offer you a presidential pact: 100 proposals for France to rediscover a shared ambition, pride and fraternity."
Sunday marked the end of the two- month "listening phase" Royal decreed after her nomination in November. (...)
Royal's speech was attended by all senior Socialists, including her two rivals for the nomination. Cheered by supporters and frequently interrupted by applause, she spoke with more ease than usual. When she talked about France's volatile suburbs, where riots erupted in November 2005 and high unemployment rates continue to curb the opportunities of second- generation immigrants, the emotion was evident on her face and in her voice.
"I want for the children in these suburbs what I want for my own children," she said, clenching a fist before her bright-red blazer and prompting the crowd to erupt into a two-minute interval of applause.
A former schools minister, she vowed that she would tackle the social exclusion in the suburbs by reducing the number of students in classes. She also promised free tutoring for students that have difficulties keeping up, and workshops for parents to teach them how to discipline their children.
The full programme can be read, in French on this page (thanks Laurent Guerby for the html version). There are a heartening 9 measures out of 100, and a specific chapter, on the environment, the first one of which is "anticipate the depletion of oil resources." The FT article above actually has a pretty good run down of the proposed measures - quite detailed, quite comprehensive, unashamedly on the left, and meant to address the concern of average French persons. There is a specific focus on youth, on security.
The chapters of her programme:
- restore confidence
- protect purchasing power
- make it easier for all to work
- focus on educational and cultural excellence
- preserve social security
- fight violence
- promote environmental excellence
- build a new Republic
- make France strong in Europe and active for world peace
Overall reactions in France, on news sites forums or on blogs, seem quite positive, with the main criticism being that the cost of her programme is not yet identified or paid for. But people seem impressed by the ambition of the programme, and its coherence with her stated method of listening to what people had to say and using that feedback to build something that would actually respond to their needs
On the forums
On the blogs
- Desert d'avenir (hostile)
- Netpolitique (happy that one of their ideas was used in her speech
- Versac (centrist, one of the best known French bloggers, lots of comments)
One comment I found on Libération
that I liked:
| Une force de conviction|
Je pourrais dire que j'y étais au discours fondateur de Villepinte. Quelle ambiance ! Des gens normaux, de tous âges , de toutes origines . Une chose que je n'avais jamais vu avant : des mamans seules avec leur enfants : mais qu'est-ce qui pouvaient bien les pousser à venir jusqu'au Hall 5 de Villepinte un dimanche après midi ? Une femme : Ségolène Royale et un discours, long , intense et prenant, jusqu'à l'émotion . Et puis la sérénité qui se dégage . Elle était étonnamment détendue vu l'enjeu de ce discours . Au fur et à mesure que les propositions sont énoncées , on se dit que c'est évident ,que ces mesures sont du bon sens , qu'il faut les faire connaitre ,les démultiplier. Le 22 avril , je voterai S.Royal et le 6 Mai aussi . Je ne partirai pas en congés comme la dernière fois ...
|A strength of conviction.|
I'll be able to say that I was in Villepinte for this foundational speech. What a crowd! Normal people, of all ages and all origins. And something I had never seen before: single mothers with their kids: what could have pushed them to come to this Exposition Hall on a Sunday afternoon? A woman: Ségolène Royal, and a long, intense speech that captures you and grabs you. And her serenity. She was unexpectedly relaxed considering the stakes today. And as her proposals come, they appear obvious, full of common sense, and each of us need to pass them on and "multiply" them around. On April 22, I will vote for S. Royal, and so will I on § May. I won't go on holiday like last time...
So here's hoping that a resurgent left, not ashamed of itself and its achievements, can prevail.
Earlier Presidential elections diaries:
On European Tribune:
Ségolène Royal - a rising star in French politics? by whataboutbob
Sègo vs Sarko: presidential poll update by whataboutbob
Finally it is clear: 'Blairite' = critical of the moderate left by Jerome a Paris
Big Ségolène Royal interview in Le Monde by Jerome a Paris
Sarkozy feeling increasingly nervous, turns to Blair for advice (and other thoughts) by Ben P
Royal strides ahead? by afew
Jospin Pulls Out (again) by afew
Tale of Three Candidates (Poll and Update) by afew
French Socialists: live blogging by Alex in Toulouse
PS Primaries - Voting has begun by afew
Ségolène Royal chosen as Socialist candidate by Jerome a Paris
Ségolène Royal, the Middle East and French politics by Jerome a Paris
French candidates go wild on wrong problem by Migeru
Not Monsieur Hulot by afew
Press Review: An American Neo-con with a French Passport by redstar
Sarkozy loves Anglo-Saxon model, calls Blair "one of us" by Jerome a Paris
José Bové Wades Into the Fray by afew
Trendspotting: French Presidential Race. by ManFromMiddletown
11 in a row for Sarko by afew
Royal and the Roots by afew
Roots versus MSM, synthesis? by afew
Ségolène Royal chosen as Socialist candidate for French presidential election
French elections (II) : Royal in the Middle East