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Battle for values leads Royal's poll campaign

As in many other western democracies, France has moved into a post-ideological age where politicians' values rather than their doctrines help define them.

The startling rise of Ségolène Royal would seem to support the theory. The opposition Socialist party's newly elected presidential candidate is championing a very different style of politics and uses a very different vocabulary from most French politicians.

Her former junior ministerial roles in education, family affairs and the environment have helped her talk most convincingly about issues touching the everyday lives of voters. Her policies on these subjects, she suggests, will be flexible but her values will be unbending.

"I want us to lead a battle of values and I am already engaged in it," she said on Sunday as she was formally anointed her party's presidential candidate. "The disorders of the world, of money, of the environment, of war, of famines, of pandemics, of families, of work pull lives apart, starting with the most fragile. That is why the battle with the right in this campaign will above all be a battle of values."


Inspired by traditional, Catholic, moral and egalitarian values, she is searching, he says, for concepts that are "more modernising or Blairist or altermondialiste [those who support a more socially and environmentally friendly form of globalisation]".


"In facing globalisation she realises you must have a powerful state. You will find these ideas in the first left, which is more Jacobin in inspiration," Mr Mignard says in an interview.

"But in her views on the relationship between the political powers and the citizens, the party and the citizen, and on participative democracy, she supports the formulas of the second left.

This is a non-statist, decentralising left, which makes civil society the core of the project, believing in participative democracy. The importance is put on what works."

Ms Royal's ideological flexibility - encased within a framework of values - serves a clear tactical purpose.


"No one can say that she's incoherent," says one veteran political observer. "But if tomorrow she were to say that she would abolish the wealth tax I would not be surprised, just as if she said that she would nationalise all the companies in the CAC-40."

The whole article is interesting (and might be worth a diary of its own), but I wanted to flag that last paragraph: call me paranoid, but this sounds to me like a warning shot to business: don't fall under her spell and support her too much, she is still a lefty with crazy ideas...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 29th, 2006 at 09:48:00 AM EST

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