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Sarkozy seems more dangerous than I thought

by Migeru Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:31:57 AM EST

Yesterday, at the Eurostar terminal in Paris, I picked up the latest issue of Marianne because of its front-page story, 11 blood-curdling pages under the title Le vrai Sarkozy: ce que les grands médias n'osent pas or ne veulet pas dévoiler (The True Sarkozy: what the large media dare not or will not unveil).

Update [2007-4-17 5:30:37 by Jerome a Paris]:: you can read the text here (3MB pdf).

Promoted by Colman


The piece paints a portrait of a man that the domestic press is afraid to criticise (though, as they point out, that if not the case of the foreign press). The anecdotal evidence is that it's gotten to the point where Sarkozy no longer needs to intervene and the journalistic profession self-censors. But this doesn't extend only to the press: the article is littered with anonymous (again, self-censored) quotations attributed to Sarkozy supporters or allies who don't like him but have their political futures tied to him and don't dare speak out. Marianne shows Sarkozy as a narcissistic authoritarian who often lashes out at the members of his own party and even the memers of his own government (Chirac and Villepin, his President and Prime Minister, included), and who by his vindicative nature has ended up surrounded by a chorus of yes-men who feed his narcissism.

I fear for France and Europe if this guy gets elected.

Display:
Welcome to the club :)

The problem with the Marianne this week is that it was buzzed by a column last week as having something really surprising to say, which it hadn't - everything in it was already known to close followers of French politics.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 05:11:54 PM EST
The scary part is that, as I was reading the part of the article about his relationship with his allies, I couldn't help but thinking that the UMP should have know to get rid of him over 10 years ago, and they didn't.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 06:07:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An alarming piece of information!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 05:18:12 PM EST
But from the first time I read about Sarko, I've thought, that's a Republican in French clothing. This Marianne piece seems to go even further and identify exactly what kind of Republican he is: the Giuliani kind. Giuliani, if you'll remember, was phenomenally unpopular, especially toward the end of his reign of terror, yet only the New York Observer ever dared criticize him. Remembering those nightmarish years, the closest I've ever come to living in a fascist dictatorship, I can well imagine the horrors that will await France, with its own compliant and corrupted MSM, if Sarkozy gets elected.
by Matt in NYC on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 06:00:09 PM EST
That's a very apt comparison. Sarko gives me the creeps. Power for its own sake.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 03:40:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarko is terrible, he swears and is competitive with a huge ego. lol

you should read a bit about De Gaulle ;-), but at least you dont deserve a godwin point unlike a large part of the left.

i dont have access to Marianne, but for the comments i read about, it was quite a disappointing article without lot of content.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 07:00:19 PM EST
The Marianne article was pretty disappointing (in terms of lack of real new content if you follow politics a little bit.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 02:38:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and he is a narcissistic prick who just cares about polls and has surrounded himself with a coterie of sniveling yes-men who shield him from unpleasant truths. In other words, the article paints him in his own bubble detached from reality already and he's not even president yet. If he gets elected, you can expect Bush-calibre governance. With Jerome's faith in the French civil service one might hope for a better outcome than in the US.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 03:35:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I have read sounds a little scary as well.  Why would the press be intimidated in this way in France?  
aren't there newspapers to the right and left , in this case the left, that would relish such an opportunity to take this on?
by wchurchill on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 09:40:46 PM EST
Our coverage of the elections here has stressed this point time and again - the media in France run almost entirely in Sarkozy's favour.

Jérôme recently gave us the list of articles posted here on the French elections. I spoke about the media situation in 11 in a row for Sarko and Roots vs MSM, synthesis?.

For what remains of the "left-wing" press, see also my diaries:

Le Monde, Journal of Record
Crisis at Libération -- Part One
Part Two
Part Three

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 01:24:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks afew.  I had missed your three diaries and Jerome's.  It's late here and I'm trying to get to bed, so I just read them very quickly,,,and will go back.  but I was surprised to see the low circulation numbers that you quoted in the first of your three diaries--particularly as compared to the Anglo figures, and I think the same comparison would show to American papers.

It reminded me of something I had noted, but never really understood.  in the '90's I would fairly frequently spend weekends in Paris, due to business schedules.  And I recall how disappointed I was with the lack of a large Sunday newspaper, like we have in the US and in London.  In London in particular, getting one of the regular papers, plus a tabloid, and having lunch at the pub with the papers was such a great day.  and then the US papers, sans tabloid, would also be a very big part of the Sunday in America.  It was initially quite a surprise to see the difference, and I remember at the time realizing how addicted I was to that part of my week.  but i didn't notice that much of a difference in the daily papers--I guess some in retrospect, in terms of the size of the papers.  

so much has changed now due to the Internet.  I actually no longer get a daily paper, and rarely buy a Sunday paper.  I still read the papers, but it's all on the Intenet, and I check papers and stories all over the world.

so I guess I'm wondering now, realizing my lack of understanding before in how the French get their news and their analysis, how do they get it now?  and what are the levers that influence the vote.

I feel that in the US now, there is incredibly open access to coverage--radio, TV, internet, newspapers.  And I, for one, do not think these broad media are overly influenced by one side or the other--as a whole that is.  radio is heavily conservative, but it's balanced, imo, by the other news outlets.

by wchurchill on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 04:06:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Newspaper in France are almost dead.

They're kept alive by a few hundreds millions euros of state subsidies (I remember 865 millions per year but I can't find the reference). And by a few rich people (who sell their stuff to the state...).

After all it's a proof that market works: french newspaper quality is abysmal and quantity is near zero, so people just don't buy them.

Internet is going up and up when pollsters ask about people source of information.

Nothing surpass wikipedia on major news events, latest is no exception:

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

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 02:38:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy is certainly a creepy and potentially dangerous character. His basic reflexes are those of the authoritarian right, and he adds to them some worrying personal touches like a bully mode of communication and explosions of anger. Jérôme and I have said here that he wouldn't apply a consistent political line if in power, but zig-zag around like Chirac, and that is surely true - but Sarko's fundamental temperament isn't Chirac's. There's nothing Gaullist about him at all. But then, there's less and less Gaullist (and more and more Thatcherian - and how De Gaulle would have hated Thatcher!) about the "Gaullist" movement. Sarkozy is a symptom of the rightward slide of the Overton window.

A word of caution (following linca) on Marianne though. I haven't read the piece you refer to, but the ebullient Jean-François Kahn, who runs Marianne, was hyping the "revelations" about Sarko around the media all week. There was a rumour about a career-wrecking story re Sarko (some whispered his wife Cecilia had filed a police report on domestic violence ie she was beaten and their home smashed up by her husband), so Kahn was saying "I'm not afraid to publish the truth blah blah" and raising expectations he would publish the rumour story. Which he didn't do. Though the portrait you outline is correct.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 01:58:57 AM EST
Well, I didn't buy Marianne because of the hype, so I don't feel cheated ;-)

The guy next to me on the Eurostar was reading the hagiographic piece in The Economist.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 03:30:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I got the rumor too, with the added component  from the journalist in the rumors chain "I wonder why nobody  publishes it".

I wonder too.


La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.

by lacordaire on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 03:55:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like he is a Social Dominant which is what you'd expect if you've read Altmeyer's paper.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 02:58:45 AM EST
Apparently there's nothing that will sway his supporters, either, including self-contradiction and hypocrisy. Facts or allegations that would damage other candidates don't stick to him.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 03:36:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What the media don't talk about, doesn't exist.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 03:54:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that he will not get more than Chirac ever did, i.e. below 20%.

Note that Sarkozy has badly lost so far the national elections he ran for. In 1999, he got 12.8% leading the RPR list at the European elections (Pasqua/de Villier got 13%, Le Pen 5%, Megret (a Le Pen sidekick wh betrayed him but has since come back in the fold) 3.9% and Bayrou 9%

See here (scroll down to 1999)

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 04:00:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So,, is he polling 30%+ because the 40% of undecided are not counted?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 05:51:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How fair do you think it is to say that the polls are part of the media?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 07:38:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you answer the question?

I seem to recall someone's comment weeks ago suggesting that the vote percentages reported by polls didn't include the 40% undecided, which means a 30% could be 30% of as little as 60%, that is, 18%.

I would like to see that (dis)confirmed.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 07:44:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup.
If Sarko gets 30% in any given poll, that's 30% out of those polled who named a candidate, not to 30% of those with the intention of voting. The sum of all the candidates' poll numbers always add up to 100% (look at Ipsos' poll tracker for example).

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 07:59:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the polls don't have a "don't know/decline to answer" category?

Talk about unprofessional.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:01:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They do report the number of people who didn't name a candidate, but to put it into context, one has to do some minor number crunching.
For example, in the latest Ipsos, Sarko gets 28.5% of the votes, and 14% of those planning on voting didn't name a candidate. Which means Sarko actually received 24.5%. And the number of people who didn't name a candidate varies quite a bit from pollster to pollster.
In other words, don't be surprised if the second round is between Besancenot and Voynet.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:18:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but they post the results brought back to 100% of those that express a view point.

Not sure if they update the relevant error interval.

Le Monde's graphs with polls (for sub.) do give the info on "no opinion":

See for CSA: it's 21% (the white shaded area). It varies from 7% to 24% according to the poll outfits.

(click for larger)

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:29:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sheesh, their definition of "Abstention" is "people certain to vote but not expressing a preference".

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:32:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"certain to vote"? From an opinion poll? How do they know?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:36:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Question 1: Do you intend to vote? Certainly/Maybe/Certainly not
Question 2 (if "Certainly" above): Who would you vote for?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:37:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Question: if you knew that Sarkozy being elected president would be the end of the republic and indeed the entire continent, would you be more or less inclined to vote for him?
If you answered more inclined: do you work as a journalist at the Financial Times?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:45:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why don't they ask "Are you a lazy git with no sense of civic duty"? If ever there was a question unlikely to get a sensible result ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:48:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the question is potentially embarrassing, you just tell the polled person to toss a coin (this being over the phone, the pollster cannot see the outcome), and to tell you the following:
  • heads: yes
  • tails: the true answer
If both answers are potentially embarrassing, you toss two coins and say:
  • two heads: yes
  • two tails: no
  • one head and one tails: the true answer


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 11:46:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 11:50:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a standard mechanism to remove bias. The tradeoff is that the margin of error is increased.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 11:58:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reference. I can't see straight off how that works, but then I'm doing two other things at the same time.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 12:01:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, make that "Reference please, if you have it?". Failed my politeness saving throw.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 12:02:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was an exam question in an exam I took last year. I didn't know the formulas so I derived them on the spot. The idea is pretty simple.

Check out question 5(ii) here (PDF, and solutions). The question of reliability hinges on the difference between accuracy and precision.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 12:10:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not precisely; the "echantillon representatif" method used by French polling institutes does not allow for the calculation of a mathematical "margin of error."

Your point of course is entirely true for the more widely used "random sample" method, but in the case of French polls, its more accurate to say merely that the problem of screening to remove bias seeks to increase the accuracy of the result at the expense of reducing the precision of the poll.

But in fact we can't use "margin of error" to assess that precision, which is why I am convinced that things remain wide open for Sunday's result.  

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 12:03:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent comment.

Not that "margin of error" means anything if there are more than two possible (yes/no) answers.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 12:11:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They do have that category, but it doesn't correspond to the 40% who say (in other polls) they don't yet know who they're voting for. The different institutes give from 5% to 25% of "no choice" replies.

What they don't give is the number of outright refusals they get (possibly one out of two contacts); or the number of people without a land line who are never polled (around 17% of the electorate).

So they "reconstitute" the electorate and recalculate the percentages. The raw numbers, apparently, give Royal ahead. By the time they've finished cooking, Sarkozy is ahead. Le Pen is multiplied by three (and, imo, is still lower than the real level of intentions).

I'm not saying (or at least I'm not sure that) the pollsters deliberately manipulate in Sarko's favour. I am saying the polls mean a whole lot less than they are cracked up to mean. And that the pollsters play the gurus in the unrolling of the media drama - which is, by and large, framed in Sarko's favour. Public commentary on the election is largely dominated by this game.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:52:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In a word, this is correct. The "non-responsive" category in the polls presumably contains not only undecided but also those who will abstain or cast blank ballots.

There's every indication though that abstention will be much lower than in 02, which means by default that there is a high degree of indicision, and this is not uncharacteristic for a multi-candidate field (and especially for a 1st round presidential election. Exit polls in 02 reported >20% made their decision in final 48 hours).

And there are those who might change their minds.

Carroll of CSA notes in an interview in today's Monde that he still finds a very high degree of volatility in Bayrou's supporters -- up to 50% might still change their minds. That could mean a late surge for LePen (if, as the UMP apparently thinks, those soft Bayrouistes are protest voters from La France exasperee), it might mean a late surge for Sarkozy (as Carroll seems to imply, with no real basis), it might mean a late surge for Royal (which I don't expect it seems better supported by Carrol's own CSA polling of the last few days than the other hypotheses.)

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 11:03:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "non-responsive" category in the polls presumably contains not only undecided but also those who will abstain or cast blank ballots.

Not abstainers, since the population polled has answered a first question on whether they have the firm intention of going to vote. (See the Le Monde graph Jérôme posts. There, the term "Abstention" refers to those who say they are certain to vote but have not expressed a choice in the poll - ie, they have "abstained" from the poll). However, some of these may cast a blank ballot, I suppose. If they don't change their minds before then...

The 40% undecided figure comes from a recent much-commented poll that researched exactly that question.

Bayrou's undecided supporters, if they decided not to vote for him, could go anywhere, depending on the dynamics of the week.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 11:24:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Sarcozy is such a potential monster (sounds like Bush to me- all power and no meat) why isn't Royal allying with Bayrou to stop this potential catastrophe for France?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 05:21:27 AM EST
Bayrou is a right wing candidate! How many times does that need to be said?

He is the reasonable right, maybe, but he still is the right. He has governed with the right, he has been elected by the right, and he has local electoral alliances with the UMP all over France (including some pretty recent by-elections) - and not a single one wiht the PS.

The fact that a rightwing candidate can appear to be "centrist" only tells us about the general drift to the right of public discourse, something that as a blog reader should not come as news.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 05:29:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but if six years ago, let's say, Chuck Hagel, had aligned with Al Gore to stop George Bush and the neocons, wouldn't we be in much better shape today. Of course we didn't know, except for Molly Ivins, what Bush would really be like. But we do have a good inkling, what Sarcozy will be like.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 05:35:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reasoning like this is validating the rightward drift. It is tantamount to giving up on the left and its values. It is attempting to settle for the lesser evil and neglecting to draw a line and take a stand. The end result will be, we will all be on the right, and wondering why we are being led further and further to the right. (See Tony Blair and Britain).

But a lot of this talk of Bayrou is based on the perception that Royal is a dud, her campaign has failed, she can't win, etc. That has been carefully fostered by the Sarko-sympathetic media with the intention of cloaking him with an aura of inevitable victory and infecting the left with defeatism. Bayrou plays cannily into the gap by pretending he has one foot on the right and one on the left, and we shouldn't be taken in by that.

I don't know the answer to this question, but how much of the Republican Party could Chuck Hagel have brought with him if he'd allied with Gore? Currently Bayrou runs a small rump party that owes its electoral existence to the UMP. He's a centre-right maverick who has seen some good poll numbers that may or may not have been exaggerated. It's also a mistake to see him as more than that.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 07:31:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
with the title " Sarkozy seems more dangerous than I thought" by Migeru. So firstly, I ask do you and Jerome agree with Migeru that he's dangerous. If you agree, then how dangerous is he? Do we risk losing our civil liberties as the people in the U.S. almost did under Bush. ( My opinion is that if it hadn't been for Katrina, and the fact that the whole country saw on TV that Bush didn't give a shit about them, all might be lost there by now.)
So if we can arrive at the answer as to how dangerous he is, we can then discuss what is required and what it is worth doing to stop him.


Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:05:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome kindly posted a pdf of the article. Have you read it?

The last three paragraphs were very strange to me, almost a Voltairean "I hate what you say but I'd give my life for your right to say it":

Voter Sarkozy n'est pas un crime. C'est même un droit. Nous ne dirons pas, nous, que ce candidat représente la fraude, la délinquance, l'anti-France et la faillite morale.

Nous voudrions simplement qu'on se souvienne plus tard — quitte, ensuite, a nous en demander compte — que nous avons écrit qu'il représente pour la conception que nous nous faisons de la démocratie et de la République un formidable danger.

S'ils est élu, nous savons que nous pourrions en payer le prix. Nous l'acceptons!

A shorter Marianne: he could wreck us, democracy and the republic, but we'd pay that price as long as we can say "we told you so" afterwards.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 08:16:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"We don't care what happens. We just want to remember later that we spoke out and wrote that Sarkozy represents a great danger to the Republic as we see it. We know that if he is elected we all may very well suffer, but we accept that as long as we can say 'We told you so.'"

Me, I think it makes more sense to make an alliance with the center right than to suffer later on. And I notice that there are some others on the left who agree.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 09:20:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. I have now read that Marianne piece and there is nothing substantially new in it. The high point to me is a very Jean-François Kahn passage where he says Sarkozy is mad and no one dares say it. I think this is a deliberate pitch for worried people on the left to vote Bayrou (whom Kahn openly supports, one should be aware of that). I think people should also be aware that Kahn is known for bombast and is not always taken all that seriously in public discourse.

  2. I have already, and often, said I think Sarkozy would be bad for France and Europe. I say again in a comment above that he's dangerous. But comparison with Bush/Cheney and the Grover Norquist GOP, and the enormous freedom available to them after 9/11, is imo completely over the top.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 10:09:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I'd expect a Winter'95 scenario: an attempt at brutal reform, and massive protest against him - and even more sustained than against Chirac.

And that would decide a lot of things then.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 10:34:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With or without police violence?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 10:37:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm trying to avoid envisioning the hypothesis of a Sarkozy victory -- but what if : Sarkozy were to defeat Royal narrowly in the run-off and then exclude the UDF from his new government, while the PS settled accounts and put forth new leadership for the legislatives (eg, DSK) in an alliance with Bayrou, do you think there's any chance of a full-term cohabition?

I think its highly possibly under one condition -- if the National Front candidates forced triangular legislative run-offs.

In other words, they worst scenario I can possibly imagine is what I think you Jerome are envisioning -- Sarkozy runs below expectations in the first round and Bayrou and LePen score strongly without qualifying (and the PCF and Verts do very poorly), followed by a narrow Sarkozy victory. At that point, a PS-UDF alliance would make sense, leaving Sarkozy to do what we all know he wouldn't hesitate to do -- cut a deall, overtly or covertly, with LePen and the FN to allow him to win a legislative majority.

Like I said, I try not to think about it.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 10:57:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "we told you so" makes sense coming from a Bayrou supporter if we believe the polls that claim Bayrou would beat Sarkozy, who would beat Royal.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 11:41:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, France does have a history of "little guys" acquiring too much power and then abusing it. (I'm not disparaging "little guys"- I'm one myself-  but we can be quite authoritarian.)

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 12:51:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the exact nature of this so-called "Alliance" anyhow?  How do two first-round candidates ally against a third?  There is no Instant Run-off Voting AFAIK.    In the vote on April 22 they must choose Bayrou, Royal or an other.  As I read it this was essentially the response from Royal's camp, that there is simply no practical way to achieve said "alliance" anyhow.

Now, should one candidate essentially drop out and endorse the other to "unite" the party you would have essentially the scenario we saw in the US in 2004.  Kerry represented the "Anybody But Bush" electorate and he got wiped off the map in an election that several other Democrats who sought the nomination would probably have won.  This idea that Royal or Bayrou might have difficulty defeating Sarkozy in a 2nd round thus we should vote for the other one is absurd.

Vote for your candidate.  If your candidate, say Royal, were to miss the 2nd round at the expense of Bayrou, vote for Bayrou as the lesser evil in that case.  Until that occurs there is no discussion.  It is a pathetic attempt to undermine Royal yet again.  Meanwhile her poll numbers are surging indicating a strong finish going into the ACTUAL election.  

Frankly with Sarkozy's constant pandering to the racist right it seems clear that he and Le Pen are fighting over the same voters.  Those voters are not known to be a huge group, either.  

Lastly, did I understand correctly that Le Pen said he would appoint Sarkozy as Minster of Racaille's?  If so, that's hilarious.  Le Pen is if nothing else an entertaining nutter.  He reminds me greatly of Pat Buchanan.

by paving on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 12:32:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent comment. There are no alliances, open or otherwise, until at least Round Two. All that is happening right now is pressure on the nerves of left-wing voters to scare them into running for the (illusory) Bayrou shelter.

The left in France has never numbered more than half the electorate, yet can win elections with a certain amount of discipline - because the right is divided. In this case, three ways.

The second round, in any case, is another election, and all previous opinion polls on the outcome are to be viewed with extreme caution (I'd say disdain). I don't know if Royal will beat Sarkozy, but I think she has every chance. Sarko does scare people. He has been pandering to the extreme right. People see that, and there's no reason to think that Royal cannot gather anti-Sarko voters just as Bayrou might. The only reason we hear that Royal "cannot beat Sarkozy" is that this idea has been dinned into people's heads for weeks with the aid of dubious poll data.

Yes, Sarkozy has been doing Le Pen's work for him so assiduously of late that Le Pen can spend half his time cracking jokes. That might be fun, if Le Pen weren't Le Pen.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 01:01:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely right, paving, about the Alliance. Thats why I think the real issue to be addressed, and I presume its being discussed en coulisse now, is whether there could be a basis for Bayrou to support Royal in the second round; that basis would not simply be a personal support but the prospect of not only Bayrouistes in a Royal-appointed government but an actual electoral alliance for the legislative elections in June. And that would be very tricky to pull off.

Rocard's proposal was clearly intended to begin that discussion rather than to propose either Bayrou or Royal
make an endorsement before the 1st round.

I'm as skeptical by the way of polling showing a late Royal surge as I was/am of polling showing Sarkozy comfortably ahead (or for that matter showing Bayrou falling back).

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 01:32:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is my observation of dubious US polling that they tend to try and make up the gaps as the actual election nears or even is over.  They even adjust their exit polls after the fact to make it look like they did a better job (or to hide the election fraud, more likely).

It is natural that the "polls" would want to be viewed as doing a good job so they can maintain some semblance of credibility.  If they know Royal will make the 2nd round, which seems rather likely, their polls had better show it if they want to have any chance at influending the 2nd round vote.

I also think that Bayrou's support comes at Sarkozy's expense more than anyone else and is essentially your anti-Sarkozy vote.  Should Bayrou fail to reach the 2nd round his support will be more likely to move toward Royal.  

Lastly I suspect Sarkozy might be in real danger of missing the 2nd round.  A Royal/Le Pen matchup does not seem out of the range of possibility here.

by paving on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 03:15:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember one thing about the pollsters: they never admit to having been mistaken because they can always say (with no possible risk of being proved wrong): "we were right about the state of opinion at the moment the poll was taken".

That opens the door to manipulation.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 04:02:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I continue to be surprised at how polling data is taken seriously by the media despite being completely wrong the past two elections specifically and more often than not before that.

I'm going to go ahead and guess that the French population has caught on to the dangers of polling (or have always understood it) and are by nature misleading those polls and best of all ignoring them before voting.

Americans have the pathetic, sad and depressing tendency to vote the way the polls are, you know, because people like to vote for a winner.  UGH.

by paving on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 04:10:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the French population has caught on to the dangers of polling (or have always understood it) and are by nature misleading those polls

This has been suggested and discussed in Le Monde and other outlets. It's surely true of a proportion of the electorate.

As to taking no notice of the polls before voting, I hope so. Though some on the left seem to be getting the poll jitters...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 05:00:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have also noticed those "jitters" of the left.  That's not surprising considering the massive media onslaught against everything they stand for.

If they win this one it was to their fortune that the candidate of the right was so disagreeable.  Bush, for all his political faults, is reasonably likable on a personal level for most and that is his greatest asset.

by paving on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 05:03:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you can explain to me WTF people are thinking when they say Bush is the kind of guy they'd like to have a couple of drinks with at the bar?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 05:42:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush is  "confidence man"

He remembers names and tries to act like your good buddy even if you don't know him.  Most people are flattered by such behavior and especially when that person represents so much power.  

This would be less effective if so many US politicians weren't such total pricks.  Bush/Cheney is essentially a good cop/bad cop routine.

by paving on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 06:02:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He gives off the vibe of an average happy go lucky guy with the sort of political people skills that paving mentions below. Or at least that's how I've always figured it - for me he has the air of the obnoxious frat boy.  Dem politicians seem to leave an impression of over-intellectualized cultural elitists - which is actually much more my taste in people to hang out with, but I'm a minority. Clinton managed to give both impressions simultaneously, along with even better people skills than Bush plus the intense charisma that Bush lacks. When that whole theme started I ended up idly speculating to myself about who my choices would be, and in what situation - Gore good for a quiet chat over a few drinks or coffee, not so much for a more raucous party, Clinton good for both.
by MarekNYC on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 06:19:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dans un entretien à paraître dans l'hebdomadaire Famille chrétienne du 21 avril, le candidat UMP déclare que "le christianisme a vu naître notre nation". "Il a participé aux plus grandes heures de son histoire, et aussi parfois à ses drames. Il a couvert notre territoire d'églises, de cathédrales, de monuments", ajoute-t-il, soulignant l'"immense patrimoine de valeurs culturelles, morales, intellectuelles et spirituelles" qu'il a légué. Pour M. Sarkozy, le rôle des religions dans les débats de société est "fondamental", puisqu'elles apportent "une dimension morale et métaphysique essentielle à nos questionnements", écrit le candidat.

In an interview for the next issue of the weekly "Christian Family", Sarkozy declared that "Christianity saw the birth of our nation" "It took part in the greatest moments of our history, and sometimes its tragedies as well. It covered our land with churches, cathedrals and monuments", underlining the "immense heritage of cultural, moral and intellectual values" which it provided. For M. Sarkozy, the role of religions in society's debates is 'fundamental' because they bring 'a moral and metaphysical dimension that is essential to our uncertainties".

M. Sarkozy s'interroge également sur "les racines chrétiennes de l'Europe (...) et de la France", que personne "ne peut ignorer". "Derrière la morale laïque et républicaine française, il y a deux mille ans de chrétienté", poursuit-il, faisant l'éloge du "long manteau d'églises" qui couvre le territoire français. "La question de savoir si Dieu doit être dans la Constitution européenne ne se pose plus, conclut-t-il, puisqu'il n'y a pas de Constitution".

M. Sarkozy also expounded on the "christian roots of Europe (...) and of France", which nobody "can deny". "Behind the secular and republican order of France, there are two thousand years of Christianity."

A quelques jours du scrutin, Nicolas Sarkozy se drape de christianisme

For non French, and American readers in particular, keep in mind that France is not the US where such sentiments would be anodyne boilerplate; it is a country with an actively secularist state, though also one which in the past was riven by divisions between the anti-clerical center and left vs. the anti-republican right. In the postwar period those divisions have declined, with the flashpoints becoming constantly less intense as the right accepted the secular nature of the state and the left in turn saw the reasons for some of its more hard edged anti-clericalism fade away.

by MarekNYC on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 04:35:30 PM EST
Marek, I think I had the same reaction you did -- I read that story and said to my self "Wow, he's even scarier than I thought when I thought he was scarier than I thought " ...

More than merely a departure from the secular consensus, to speak of the "Christian origins of France" is to invoke anti-republican leaders and movements such as Action francaise, the Croix de feu and Petain. To speak of the predominence of God over a Constitution that does not exist is to quote almost directly from Joseph de Maistre.

Whats unclear to me is if he thinks he's appealing to christian democratic (ie, Bayrou) voters of the center (who would generally not respond to this ultramontanism, placing christianity over and agaisnt the republic -- or, more likely, to the "devot" component of the far right.

Either way, this is playing right into Royal's hands; her one shot for the run-off is to present herself as an incarnation of the Republic and to depict Sarkozy as a reactionary Petainist/LePenist.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 04:58:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that he's necessarily invoking the extreme reactionary past that you speak of, more the generic conservative Catholic one. De Maistre would have found the idea of the Republic as an organic heir to two millenia of Christianity to be positively obscene, not to mention utterly absurd. But it is a clin d'oeuil to the traditionalist conservatives who form a part of the Le Pen vote and pretty much all of the de Villiers one. And while the UDF has in recent decades been the more centrist right wing party, it was originally formed out of a catch-all broad alliance of non-left, non-Gaullist parties - from just left of center Christian Democrats to remnants of the old right which never could completely forgive de Gaulle for his immediate rejection of the National Revolution and embrace of the Republic. For all I know some of those might still vote UDF out of some atavistic instinct.
by MarekNYC on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 05:12:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess he's gambling that he'll pick up more votes on the right flank than he will lose centrist voters to Bayrou or Royal. The way Le Pen has been going after him I don't think the lepénistes will show up and vote in the second round, if Le Pen doesn't qualify. Of course, if Sarko sheds too many centrist voters in the first round (while being unable to pick votes from Le Pen), he's not going to be in the second round.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 05:28:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It definitely appears to me that Le Pen wants to block Sarkozy.  I think he likes b/s even less than us.
by paving on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 01:22:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I think LePen's attacks will help Sarkozy by making him seem more moderate -- and the UMP  is happy about it. (LeMonde had a story to this effect last week.) Also, Sarkozy really wants to be sure he doesn't face BAyrou in the second round and he believes that, again based on LeMonde reporting, Bayrou and LePen are actually competing for some of the same protest votes; so Sarkozy wants LePen to pick these up in the first round - to keep Bayrou's score down.

That said, its important to keep in mind that both of the major parties, but especially the PS, are focused this week less on picking up Bayrou's voters (that will start Sunday night) on not seeing their "base" voters disperse to the "extremes" as happened in the final days to both Chirac and Jospin in 2002. (Thats why Holland got so upset at Rocard's overtures to Bayrou and why Royal is talking about "proletariot" today.)

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 10:43:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that Le Pen explicitly stated on radio (on France-Info on Tuesday) that he expected to face off Royal in the second round. He said that he saw Sarkozy "se jospiniser" (jospinifying).

There's some element of wishful thinking in that, as Royal offers him, obviously, his best shot at a strong score in a second round, but as it happens to fit with what I think myself...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 04:05:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hoping for a Royal-LePen is certainly wishful thinking on the part of the left, as it is the only sure vote for Segolène :)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 04:36:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah, she'll win against Sarkozy. Sarkozy's campaign team is convinced of it, thus their attempts to push Le Pen up^.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 05:51:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, single transferable voting would be such an improvement on the French system. It would eliminate all this campaigning to influence people to vote strategically on disinformation.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 05:55:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, hope for the best, expect the worst, as Mel Brooks might say...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 05:52:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of whom, am I the only one who sees the resemblance between him and Bayrou? I fully expect Bayrou to break into a stunning rendition of "The Inquisition! What a show!" every time I see him on TV.
But I might be a bit weird.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 05:57:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and this will help the UMP make the case to those right-wing voters vacillating between Sarkozy and LePen to "votez utile," so to speak. It'll also help, from their point of view, prevent a late break of some votes from Sarko to Villiers or Nihous. My point was only that both sides fear a dispersion of even a couple % points. Sarkozy knows that if he doesn't finish first and close to 30, he's going to be coming in below expectations.
by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 10:44:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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