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11 in a row for Sarko

by afew Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 11:40:41 AM EST

Eleven polls in a row in favour of Nicolas Sarkozy are beginning to echo around and create worries on the left, not least here on ET. ManFromMiddletown looked at some of the polls, with graphs, in Trendspotting: French Presidential Race. The latest poll, by TNS Sofres yesterday, gave Sarkozy the victory in Round Two by 53% to 47% for Ségolène Royal.

So what's going on? Royal started well and won the primary within the Socialist Party (PS) convincingly. By positioning herself in the centre while Sarko was still playing his usual bad cop routine (attempting to round up far-right voters by stressing law and order issues), she stuck him out there on the right with an over-authoritarian image. To take a metaphor from tennis, she'd moved inside the baseline, mid-court, and was ideally placed to distribute the shots and keep Sarko on the stretch. Yet a sound-bite I heard yesterday (can't find a link but I think it was from Jean-François Kahn, ed-in-chief of political weekly Marianne) pictured Sarko belting down the shots like a tennis champ, while Royal, at the other end, looked like an amateur ping-pong player.


Yeah. Well, of course. She's a woman, and women have to be twice as good to look as if they're nearly as good. Those are the cultural distortion spectacles everyone wears, men and women, rich and poor, and that isn't going to change for the duration of the campaign (or for how much longer?), so one would hope Royal and her people have it branded into their frontal lobes. It is going to be hard, hard, hard - to start with, because it's harder for a female candidate in a macho political culture.

Another reason why it will be hard is that Sarko has the MSM with him. Not loudly, not Fox-News-style, but discreetly, in the choice of what memes to play and which to mute: how to create perceptions and fuel their growth. For some time the big news was all about Ségolène making silly mistakes. She said "bravitude"! Ha-ha-ha! Can you imagine a president who says "bravitude"? When a much more substantial story came out about the political police (under Sarko's orders at the Interior Ministry) investigating a former Greenpeace leader who joined Royal's campaign staff, TF1, the country's dominant TV channel (owned by Sarko's buddy Martin Bouygues) first didn't cover the story, then, when that became impossible because the story had legs, only offered evening news-watchers Sarko's off-hand denial.

So Sarkozy has been able to run, with more ease than democracy should strictly contemplate, his answer to Royal's central positioning: he's nothing but sweet reason and he's on the left. Chirac has done this before - be identified with authoritarianism and anti-immigrant feeling at one point, only to go all leftie populist when campaign time comes. Sarko has handed himself the endorsement of historic leaders of the French left like Jaurès and Blum; and he repeats that he wants to restore the values of travail, which (handily for him) is ambiguous in French, since it means both "work" and "labour". Understand: when Sarko says he's all in favour of travail, he sounds as if he means he's backing labour (against capital?), when in fact he means he's going to make people work harder (to capital's benefit...). He's appealing to individualistic feelings on the part of some employees who are ready to work all hours to earn more, while in fact he's simply relaying conventional wisdom about France's supposed problems stemming from the French not working hard enough. What's worrying is how easily he's getting away with it.

It's true he acts the change from attack dog to fluffy pooch with conviction, and his campaign is well-organized around the act. He has hard-hitting surrogates doing the fighting while he plays Mr Nice Guy. Ségolène too, is playing an angel (she was much photo'd with a lamb in her arms somewhere in regional France, y'know...), but she hasn't got the gritty surrogates. They've been missing for too long. The Sarko mob have had two or three open weeks to fire at will, and it's done damage. Sarko, who is an official candidate, is head of the right's biggest party, Interior Minister, and government Number Two. He should be paying a political price for wearing all those hats. Until the last week, no one has been extracting that price. It's as if the Royal campaign and the PS were simply unprepared for what was coming, even though it was very predictable. The right is campaigning as the right does. Get used to it and fight it.

Behind this is a PS that seems stuck in a time-warp. Mitterand ended his second mandate twelve years ago, but it's as if the Socialists haven't got over it yet, divided as they are (at least a good number of them) between pro- and anti-Mitterandists. Add to that the weight of the elephants and their personal scheming. It's perhaps not fair to make too much of this, but there's no doubt the party is not united and out there fighting for Royal, and it's about time it was. Sarko may have Chirac and Villepin against him, but he has the UMP, a party of comparable size to the PS, totally behind him. Talking of hard-hitting surrogates, the best defence of Royal/ attack on Sarko in weeks came, not from the PS, but from Jean-Pierre Chevènement, (renegade founder of a split-off movement), when he stated clearly that Sarkozy was the candidate of big, globalised, financial capitalism.

As usual, it's a problem of perception. Sarko, with the media's help, has - for the moment - successfully engineered a version of himself that is convincingly back in the centre, doesn't have to pay for the impopularity of the government he's been N° 2 of for five years, isn't seen as the representative of neo-lib "reform" or of Atlanticism, and that looks like a winner. Royal has slipped into the perception trap that makes her a facade with no substance, detached from unpleasant reality, and beginning a cliff-fall in the polls. The meme of a change of candidate has even got out there. Tell us again who the media are working for?

There is in fact no cliff-fall. Sarkozy too is falling. (In the TNS Sofres barometer I quote above, for the first round of the elections, Royal's high point was in November '06, at 34%, down to 26% in the latest poll; Sarko's high point was last October at 38%, down to 32% in this poll). But it's all about perception... And the perception is that it's Royal who's slipping... Just a bit more of this, it will become self-feeding.

Royal needs to stop this - in my view, by a campaign with more nitty-gritty realism, with some real backing from the Socialists, and with some substance. The substance is supposed to come next Sunday, 11th February, when her programme will be revealed. This programme is billed to be the result of long discussions with ordinary folks all over the country, an example of participative democracy. Sarko has a programme (pdf), brief, vague, and full of fine sentiments, brought out two weeks ago. I may have missed the action, but I haven't noticed the media jumping all over it. Royal must know every pundit, every "specialist" journalist, will be all over hers, and she will be asked to justify every last detail. So it matters a lot that this programme be up to it, that it should correspond to something that has come out of a long discussion with ordinary people, that - above all - it should not be too "angelic", ie full of well-meaning clap-trap that will not strike home. And that the Royal campaign be really ready to take it from there, having measured how hard it will be.

Because (pace Douglas Adams), it does matter which lizard gets in...

Sarkozy presents his new social workers

Display:
great article, afew. An infuriating. It seems Sarko has taken a page from the US Republicans (Bush), and try to run as the "nice guy", say what people want to hear, but truly run in a stealth manner. He doesn't even look like a nice guy. And as the Dems learned, if you look like you can't defend yourself, will people think you can't defend the country? the Dems learned this last fall. Royal et al needs to get going.

What does she need to do to start fighting back? And who are her allies? Shouldn't they be supporting her? And if the election is in May, isn't about time to start turning up the heat? Why wait for the pres to criticize Sarko's plan? Why not Royal and the Left? All this is rather puzzling to me..

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 12:11:31 PM EST
Deja vu indeed.

Royal started well and won the primary within the Socialist Party (PS) convincingly. [...]

Another reason why it will be hard is that Sarko has the MSM with him. Not loudly, not Fox-News-style, but discreetly, in the choice of what memes to play and which to mute: how to create perceptions and fuel their growth. For some time the big news was all about Ségolène making silly mistakes. [...]

What's worrying is how easily he's getting away with it. [...]

It's as if the Royal campaign and the PS were simply unprepared for what was coming, even though it was very predictable.

Sounds a lot like Bush's rise against Gore in 2000 (or Dukakis & Kerry). The  conservatives, or more precisely, "the big, globalised, financial capitalism", has apparently found a method to push important elections in their way. Yeah, they need to be more subtle in countries like France than they were in America. But they know perfectly well what they need to do, how to play, what to await avidly from the opponents.

The progressives need to invent new tactics in these assymetric battles. They need to learn how to deal with subtly adverse media and surrogate mob attacks. They need to manage public perceptions much better. They need to have influence on political rules, not just follow them. Hell, if Roayl cannot win the "nice candidate" crown, there are many much more important nominations. It is a big disadvantage that progressives cannot fully rely on their instincts and habbits, since these are routinely exploited by right wing machines.  It will take some boldness to make a few sensible steps without fully knowing the effect. But usual tactics is nowaydays a way to Kerry-lite defeats. I would have confidence in pure rational judgements in this situation.

by das monde on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 08:31:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that you would even acknowledge this supposed "common wisdom" as it becomes clearer and clearer that it has no real basis in truth and is just a big circle-jerk of the media establishment.

Polls have moved by just a couple of points - and the more noticeable trend is actually that of the increase for Bayrou; meanwhile the media are beginning to pay attention to SR's efforts to gather proposals from the general population, something snickered at by the Parisian elites but obviously very popular wherever it is taking place around France.

As to Sarko appearing more to the left, I'm a bit surprised by that claim after his extravagant trip to the expatriate community in London and his public love affair with Blair.

But hey, maybe I'm blinded by my prejudices!

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 12:37:06 PM EST
Well, it's always possible to dismiss the noise as a media "circle-jerk". I think it's wiser to take the mass media into account in a major election.

If the perception takes hold that Royal is in free fall, it will be hard to stop. DSK said that the other day, which was kind of friendly of him.

However, it doesn't correspond to the facts, as you say and as I said above.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 12:59:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't dismiss the perception, just its reality, and thus kindly suggesting that we do nothing ourselves to perpetuate it!

But I am increasingly wondering if that very perception is not actually helping SR, as it amplifies, in the provinces, the idea that the elite is out of touch and only preoccupied wiht itself (and, to some extent, machist) and it reinforces her appeal.

We'll see...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 01:11:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, blithely ignoring perceptions as channeled by the media didn't get Jospin far... I think we should face them, discuss them, debunk them, attack them.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:36:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing about Jospin (beyond the competence is boring/he's not lefty enough/let's have some major league scaremongering) was that it looked like he would survive not winning - he did not want the job enough.

That cannot be said of SR. She has also successfully neutralised the scaremongering angle. The past 3 weeks have been full of "boules puantes", and ugly non-campaigning campaigning. The Sarkozystes complain about SR's supposed lack of a programme, when she's announced both a date and a method to get there (the "listening phase"). He HAS announced a programme, and yet it is not discussed at all. I hope the contrast after 11 February will be stark.

He has nothing. He has nothing to run on (he spends his time saying that everything is dark and bad - as if he hadn't been the n°2 of the government for the past 5 years) and nothing to sell. So it's going to be negative campaigning and dirty tricks all the time, and I'm not sure it will help him, because in that context, it is Le Pen that he has to beat, not SR.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 03:04:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with all of that. But as you see above, I point out that Sarko has a - frankly risible - "programme", and he is only getting away with "I have a programme she doesn't" because the media bosses are with him and the employees are scared and/or naturally submissive.

And that will go on. Royal's programme will be carved into little pieces. Sarko's won't be examined. This has to be fought. Believe it or not, down here in the provinces far from the Parisian elites, ;), people consume those very same media, particularly TF1.

Why, after all, should we fight CW and media perceptions in the English-language media and not within France?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 04:02:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello afew. A question from a long time resident of France who hasn't paid much attention to French politics.
In your opinion, what does a Sarcozy victory mean for France and for you and me?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 12:38:39 PM EST
Disaster.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 01:36:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we speaking disaster a la Bush in America? Is he going to try to turn things upside down here as Bush has?
Or, even if he tries, are the French ( especially the unions and the burocracy) too resistant to accept major changes in the French government and society?
I remember Pasqua as Interior minister in the mid 90's. He was awful, but not President.
Maybe we separate a new diary by someone qualified: "What would France under Sarcozy look like?"

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 01:52:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hesitate to say this, but a neo-con at the helm in France would spell the destruction of the EU as we know it. Of course, things could get gummed up in France domestically, but I doubt the PS would manage to turn around and win the paramentary elections, so any opposition to Sarko would have to be at the civic level.

Sarko would guarantee the first half of "things need to get worse before they can get better".

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:12:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think another approach to this question would be... how different would he be from (i.e. how much worse than) Chirac?
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:24:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems that afew just answered my question below...
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:25:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry Migeru. I meant to rate your comment a 4, not a 2.
I corrected it.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 04:27:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
worth listening to on this issue, but I learned in 2000 not to underestimate the destructive possibilities of a right-wing political leader.  Although they may look to be ineffectual, circumstances may give them a stronger hand to play than their abilities would allow them to acquire naturally.  Don't take chances, we look to Europe for inspiration.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 04:59:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That might be an idea, but let's say a couple of things here. You mention Pasqua. Pasqua was Sarkozy's mentor, his personal and direct way (very young) into politics in Neuilly. Sarkozy as Interior Minister has certainly continued in the repressive, security-paranoia Pasqua style.

Jérôme is surely right when he says (as he has) that Sarkozy is, finally, all hat and no cattle, and will end up being another Chirac. That's broadly true, imo. However, they're not the same generation and Sarko is a long way from General De Gaulle. Some say he's a neocon and see him as part of a vast conspiracy. I don't think that's the case, but I'd certainly expect a more Atlanticist stance from France with Sarko president. That would of course include a more pro-Israel line, and recent endorsements from neocon-like nouveaux philosophes André Glucksmann and Alain Finkielkraut tend to back that impression up.

In economic matters, Sarko is part of a much more neo-lib band of capitalists and bosses than Chirac's old-school lot. He would certainly, in the wake of victorious elections, pass "reforms" to reduce the tax burden on the rich (fortune tax and estate tax, income tax, tax ceiling) while reducing employee protection in the job market (new contracts, easier firing), and reducing unit labour costs by cutting payroll taxes on overtime, allowing employers to keep chosen (ie trained, skilled, productive) workers at work for longer hours, with an inevitable accentuation of the gap between skilled and lower-skilled, those with a job and those without or on the fringes of employment.

I'm not sure there would be widespread resistance in the first year or so of a new presidency (that would surely have a majority in the National Assembly, since the parliamentary elections follow the presidential and the tendency is to always give the new president a majority). How much harm Sarko could do before gridlock set in I don't know, but I'd really rather not have to find out ;).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:21:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy rubs shoulders with the racaille we have leading the PP in Spain. He looks to be terribly destructive. If he were all hat and no cattle he wouldn't be where he is today.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:28:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we need to use that word every single time we refer to Sarkozy from now until the election.  And if he wins, we keep using it.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:37:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the word is cult in France now as the word Kärcher (pronounced karcher). People say "salut racaille" to eachother.

"iznogoud président" is so much better (google bomb)

about Iznogoud read here :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iznogoud

by oldfrog on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 09:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some say he's a neocon and see him as part of a vast conspiracy. I don't think that's the case, but I'd certainly expect a more Atlanticist stance from France with Sarko president.

The European People's Party is a vast neocon conspiracy. But maybe this is just DoDo and I being paranoid and you and Jerome are right to be unfazed.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:34:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about unfazed. You're right (I didn't handle this aspect in my response to LEP below) that a Sarko presidency in France would have an extremely negative effect on the EU. And that, working with others (who may or may not get elected in other countries), he might be the straw that broke the EU camel's back.

But I do also think he's a big-hat man. Trouble is the EU is where he could probably do the most harm fastest, because, let's face it, there are so many others who are waiting for it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:44:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had lunch with someone who got to brief him on foreign policy issues. It struck that person how utterly uninterested in European issues Sarkozy was. Big league utterly. That person said it was scary for a future president, and basically enough to disqualify him.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:58:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That doesn't surprise me. We must dig further into this.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 04:35:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As usual the "resistance" takes form of huge rallies and strikes. Sarko embodies already the "nasty liberal" for the left.

That's what I am most afraid of. Because on the other hand it would split the French society even more. In my opinion there are plenty of reforms to be done in many sectors that have to do with the "public service", reforms that have been done in other countries with a more or less broad consensus. In France this would lead to violence and an impossibility to reform if done by Sarkozy.

The CPE fight is a very good example. The CPE wasn't very different from the contact that a a Swedish teacher signs the first year (imagine the horror in France) with the exception that he/she has the right to a "motive" for the firing. But in 90% of the cases, if the person is fired in Sweden (except for cases of economical bankrupcy, delocalisation etc...), the employer and the union agrees that there is a god reason (which is mostly that the person isn't doing its job). This is often rewritten as "incompatibility" which means that the person can keep unemployment fees.

Another example: in France "la sécu" (the overall health insurance) is tremendously inefficient due to bureaucracy and red tape. It costs the tax payers at least the double than it costs (compared percentage of BNP) in Sweden for a lesser coverage (causing the French to buy more and more expensive private insurances). Even with the "carte vitale", it's still very bureaucratic. Sarkozy could never solve such a problem because he hasn't the guts to attack the bureaucracy. The "solutions" will be taking more money from the patient's insurance by cutting reimbursements and increasing fees. Thus conflict. And the billions in deficit will remain.

The problem is that Ségo will do nothing to those problems either but will pass measures that we really can't afford. Both candidates are all hat and no cattle. And Sego is no more "European" than Sarko. So far her "europeanism" has been nothing but vague incantations that Europe must "get better".

who doesn't want that ?

by oldfrog on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 10:27:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually...

Teachers in France can be fired after their first year on the job, as they are "stagiaires" during that year. They also don't work fulltime during that year.

The counterpart is that it's actually much harder to be fired afterwards, obviously.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 03:30:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She's a woman, and women have to be twice as good to look as if they're nearly as good.

OK, don't get me started on that one, because the result will be a very long and angry rant.  Grrr.

(OT: I almost exploded over the weekend when I saw this long BBC piece about Obama and Hillary, focused entirely (and I mean for a full 15 minutes, an eternity in tv-time) on just the fact that they are black and female, respectively, to the exclusion of any and all issues of policy or anything else that really matters.  It was all gender and race, as if that had anything to do with competence.)

For some time the big news was all about Ségolène making silly mistakes. She said "bravitude"! Ha-ha-ha! Can you imagine a president who says "bravitude"?

Yeah, this plays into the whole "she's a lightweight" theme, which is honestly only an issue because she's female.  If she were a man with her experience, skills and qualifications, there would be no question of whether she's "serious" enough for the presidency.  It's fucking infuriating.

Sarko, who is an official candidate, is head of the right's biggest party, Interior Minister, and government Number Two. He should be paying a political price for wearing all those hats. Until the last week, no one has been extracting that price. It's as if the Royal campaign and the PS were simply unprepared for what was coming, even though it was very predictable. The right is campaigning as the right does. Get used to it and fight it.

Honestly, this seems to be an epidemic on the left in so many places.  The right, especially when they have been in power, should be held to account for the damage they've done, and for some reason they rarely seem to be.  It does seem to be happening in a few places (Spain, Italy, to some extent the US Congressional elections) but in those cases it seems mainly connected to a specific issue, support for the disastrous Iraq war.  It should not take something so extreme to discredit these people.

There is in fact no cliff-fall. Sarkozy too is falling.

That's interesting.  Is that a normal pattern, for the two top candidates to lose popularity after getting their respective nominations?

Royal's high point was in November '06, at 34%, down to 26% in the latest poll; Sarko's high point was last October at 38%, down to 32% in this poll). But it's all about perception... And the perception is that it's Royal who's slipping... Just a bit more of this, it will become self-feeding.

You're right.  The six-point difference between them, too, would be within the margin of error of most polls.  This brings me to another pet peeve, which is the way that opinion research is generally reported.  (Which is badly.)  This horse-race-reporting stuff is crap enough, but not even interpreting the horse race results properly is just inexcusable.

I guess this is as good place as any to start a full frontal assault on these false perceptions.  But PS and Royal's people are going to have to use the momentum created by revealing their programme to "bounce" and counter this stuff themselves.  If it's getting attention, even aggressive and unfriendly attention, they can and should use that to their advantage.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:20:14 PM EST
the whole "she's a lightweight" theme, which is honestly only an issue because she's female

That's exactly what it's about. Everyone in politics has now agreed it's not nice to say she's a woman so she can't hack it, but everyone knows that's the bottom line in 90%+ of people's basic assumptions, so they play on it that way. What ever will she come up with next, tee hee? I didn't analyse it any further because it fucking infuriates me.

The drop in both candidate's polls may partly be due to the fact that they both imprinted their presence early on as "inevitable" candidates, and now other candidates are beginning to make an entrance, Bayrou in particular (on 13% in this poll) and the new candidate Bové (credited with 4%).

As always, beware of French polls because Le Pen always gets more than his poll numbers. I doubt if he'll get less than 16% in Round One, but he's only given 12% in this poll.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:32:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's always an authoritarian wing which wants to elect a thug and a bully - someone who will be 'strong.'

This wing really has no concept of policy beyond the superficial appearance of strength. It doesn't even have to be effective strength. It's purely a PR position.

This is Bush's base, and it's also how he was allowed to get close enough to the winning post in two elections to be handed the White House. But all countries have it - which is why so many people in the UK still look up to Thatcher, because these lunatics loved her for her ability to pick fights and (supposedly) win them.

I think SR has one failing, which is that she doesn't seem to understand this. If she's playing the consensus card, she will have lost those who lean towards this sector, because they're only interested in bullying and braying, not in talking.

Sarko is perfect for them, because he's someone who's more than willing to live up to their expectations. Le Pen has the hardcore cases, but I'd guess there's enough of an element in the swing-vote middle to be influential.

SR could certainly turn this around, but at this point she's reminding me less of Hillary and more of Obama - someone who's on a 'Why can't we all get along?' mission, which appears bland and spineless.

To win back some of the authoritarians she has to take an aggressive stand on something. Almost anything will do - the important part is the meta-message of appearing to be strong and decisive. Actual policy is secondary for these voters.

I'm hoping she can pull this together. But if she really believes that the main reason people will vote for her is because they like her policies, then to be brutally honest I think she's being very naive.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 04:54:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think she does believe that. Indeed, she's been criticised from the left for looking after her image more than her programme.

Over the first months, she was opposing a stern-maternal (some might say school-ma'amish) image to Sarko's tough cop one. With considerable success. But he has now redefined his image as softer, more supposedly "leftie". It's up to Royal to find the response to that, no doubt by bouncing off next weekend's agenda (programme announce, etc). I think it does matter that her programme, after a long period of "listening" to the French in meetings all round the country, should measure up and feel like the product of real listening. Her image will partly be defined by that.

There'll no doubt be more movement. It'll be a running fight.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 05:06:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this. We're getting no substantial information about the campaign over here, but as you suggest, it could tip the balance of the EU towards the neocon hegemony just at the moment it has run out of steam in the US.

Typical of socialists to sit on their hands rather than help a competing faction against their mutual enemy. Petulant twats !!

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:46:50 PM EST
I'm watching Sarko now on TF1 answering questions from a multitude of citizens. Quelle banalite.
Questions like: "Why doesn't health insurance reimburse me for my viagra; it's important you know."

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 03:22:54 PM EST
Earlier (on Canal+) I saw, after a Sarko meeting, a shopkeeper complain only in France were shopkeepers obliged to follow rules for organising sales, (meaning The Sales), while in every other country they were free to do as they wished. Goddess Democracy, look down and weep!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 04:40:42 PM EST
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I don't understand what this means.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 04:42:38 PM EST
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The context is lots of TV footage of Sarko meeting plain folks.

Plain folk shopkeeper (who looked a bit funny peculiar) was explaining why he wanted things to change (ie with Sarko). He believes France is the only country where sales (annual especially January Sales where goods are sold at cut price) are regulated by law/ by the administration. This was his example of what was wrong and what he wanted fixed.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 04:49:38 PM EST
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In many European countries there are strong regulations regarding, say, opening businesses on public holidays, how many weeks a year you can have a "sale", and the like. The regulations this [patently ignorant] shopkeeper is whining about are similar to (just to list the ones I can be sure about) Spanish and Italian regulations.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 04:55:17 PM EST
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the Nordic countries don't have those regulations (which in Southern European countries have a background in the Catholic Church influence) and up there everybody is happy they haven't.

The counterpart of those lacking regulations is that the overtime for those working on Sundays is very well payed and cannot be used more than 4 weeks in a row. Nobody complains about that up there what I know of. And going to a mall a rainy Sunday is god for the economy but bad for whatever ideology that people shouldn't do that or that... (in that case religion and politically correct "leftism" are very similar). Those holiday regulations remind very much of New England's "blue laws". They are more the product of a culture than a social necessity.

Regarding sales I don't see the problem with having them anytime there is a surplus that need to be liquidated, as long as the price control is efficient.

Anyway skipping sales would force to lower the prices. I think it is the case in the US. For me sales are idiotic and forced consumtion the way it's organised in France. The poor people don't profit of them either because most of the time it's not sure that you have the capital necessary to buy the thing you need (at a better price) during the sale period. Because, when you are poor, it's difficult to save.

by oldfrog on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 10:46:26 PM EST
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doesnt matter if it s Sarko or Sego as long as the next president is not ENArque ;-)
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 11:54:35 PM EST
Ségolène Royal is an énarque, Sarkozy a lawyer.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 03:44:12 AM EST
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That's what fredouil means... ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:17:57 AM EST
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