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I get the sense that if (BIG if) Bayrou manages to position himself as the truly centrist candidate and makes it to the second round, he'd be tough to beat. He'd pick up the support of the fallen candidate (Sarko or Ségo) in addition to potentially being able to draw more centrist supporters from the other candidate.

Of course, I was sure Kerry would beat Bush in 2004, so what the hell do I know.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 04:32:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the point of view of mandate, might it be better if Bayrou beats Sarkozy with the left's votes than if Bayrou beats Royal with the right's votes?

As has been pointed out, Bayrou is the only clearly pro-EU candidate. Though his party (UDF) is a satellite of the UMP and he is a Christian Democrat, the UDF is not with the European Christian Democrats and the UMP in the EPP-ED parliamentary group, but is instead the promoter of the small "European Democratic Party", which group other small, centre-right, christian democrat parties (such as the Basque Nationalist Party - that the PP did its best to keep out of the EPP) and includes Prodi's Margherita.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 05:15:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and thats the paradox -- its also clear that he's gunning for protest votes ("renverser la table") which means those who might be intending or considering voting LePen. I get the sense he's trying a delicate balancing act, trying to run as the bien-pensant centrist and at the same time, trying to run as an outsider/anti-politician. I don't think he can pull it off.

But clearly he's benefitting from both the turn in Royal's rhetoric from center to the left and the general unease on the center-right with Sarkozy. Not clear that he's pulling at all from the margins, though.

I've always thought/ heard that his ceiling is about 9% because too many well-educated, pro-European, centrist voters won't support a Christian Democrat. He seems to have burst through by playing down the CDU heritage and trying to run more like a radical.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 12:55:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always thought/ heard that his ceiling is about 9% because too many well-educated, pro-European, centrist voters won't support a Christian Democrat.

I'd probably be in that category - in Spain specially a "christian" politician would be suspect of being Opus Dei.

And, in France, I imagine strongly secular voters will shun a Christian Democrat. But if it' Bayrou-Sarkozy in the second round we'd have "better a Christian than racaille".

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 02:21:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing to note is that, to the mass of French electors, "Christian Democrat" doesn't mean a thing. There has been no Christian Democrat party for donkey's years.

Only if you map French politics on to a broader European sphere can you say, for example, Jacques Delors was a Christian Democrat, or François Bayrou is a CD. Whereas Delors was a member of the PS, and Bayrou's entire career has been spent under the Gaulliste wing. Right-left, you choose.

It's perfectly reasonable for Bayrou to want to break free of the left-right divide, and play the "centre" and what endlessly comes up in French politics, (and never works), which is called l'ouverture, (=opening up to the other side) - which he is allowing to fly as a kite with talk of his choosing DSK as PM if elected. And, who knows, in the present state of disillusionment with the political world, he just might pull off an electoral coup.

Then the chickens would come home to roost. One, he'd need a parliamentary majority, when currently his small party relies on the UMP for its 30-or-so seats in the Assembly. Two, governments composed of right and left ministers would have difficulty holding together - in the past, l'ouverture has always meant token jobs for one side of the divide, real power for the other, and in this case Bayrou would certainly not be handing over any real power to the left. (DSK kite notwithstanding - that's just an easy way to look more "open").

I listened to Bayrou earlier this morning on France Inter. Asked clearly if he was saying the UDF was the pivotal centre point of French politics, he replied yes. And seemed in a hurry to move on, that point of view is so plainly hard to argue.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 04:08:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What, then, is the centre point of French Politics? I don't find it so far-fetched that Bayrou might be closer to that centre than Ségo or Sarko. Just because the UDF is small doesn't mean it cannot be in the centre.

Regarding the parliamentary majority, clearly if Bayrou won the presidency the UDF would capture a lot more of the vote in the parliamentary elections. If that, as you imply, would not be enough to win, which of PS (under DSK?) or the UMP (under Sarko?) would be the largest party, and could you have a Government with the President's party as junior partner of the Prime Minister's? Also, would the party of the presidential runner-up do better or worse than the one that didn't make it past the first round?

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 04:53:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a whole lot of extremely speculative questions. You'd be a good one for buying into Bayrou's dream.

There doesn't seem to be (imo) an exact centre point of French politics. Why should there be? In saying the UDF (or the group that preceded it) was not that point, (supposing it existed), I wasn't referring to its current size but its clear, 5th-Republic-long positioning on the right as team-mate/rival of the successive Gaullist parties. You don't change that with a few energetic speeches.

The rest of your questions illustrate the kind of difficulty Bayrou would have as president...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 05:12:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What "dream"? This subthread started because of a poll that says Bayrou would win if he made it to the 2nd round. The questions I ask may have speculative answers, but as questions they follow naturally from the poll results we're discussing.

About centre points - let me get quantitative for a minute. Identify the main issues (axes) of the political spectrum. Assume that positions can be approximately ranked linearly on each issue, and find the median voter position for each. That's the political centre. Theis may not be very meaningful if you need a lot of different, very narrow issues in order to have linear axes.

So, in the 2007 French Presidential campaign, what seem to be the two or three key issues (and this could be something like 'can we have a woman president' rather than, say economic left/right, if that's the turn the campaign takes in the voters' view), and where's the centre?

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 06:06:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bayrou's dream is that the electorate will accept his pretended "non-aligned" posture and allow him to wipe the slate clean. That they may accept some form of the quantitative thinking you lay out, and accord him a position smack dab in the middle. And that this will be sufficient for him to get into Round Two, in which case he is in a strong winning position as the "lesser evil" of the two.

My point is not to deny Sarko is further right than Bayrou, or Royal further left. It is to say Bayrou is right-ist in his leanings, and historically on the right in terms of his personal tradition and political career - including the symbiosis with the Gaullistes in which he and his movement have always lived (until his decision to break off to make this run). That was the meaning of the journalist's question about the centre - are you really trying to tell us you're the centre, and not the right?

Now, the electorate may be sufficiently fooled by his posture to put him in Round Two. But political parties and personnel do not have short memories like the TV-gazing masses. They won't give him a free ride.

The truth, imo? Bayrou at the Elysée would mean he had created a new balance on the right. He would ally with the UMP again, but this time on new terms, with him as boss. I'd rather see him than Sarko in that position, but then again I'd rather see neither.

(Otherwise, I know you can produce a graphic representation of political views and thus define a "centre". I think it may be useful in a time series, to compare changes and trends. Not as anything other than an oversimplification, though, if it is meant as a description of the extremely complex dynamic system we might call history.)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 09:42:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair enough, but let me be more explicit. What are the two or three issues that seem to dominate the campaign, and where do the candidates stand on these issues relative to each other in voter perception?

You seem to be implying that there is no centre, and if there is, it's not Bayrou.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 09:53:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If there's a centre, it's an angel on a pinhead, and that's hardly Bayrou ;)

I think your question is really for another diary, and later on, when major issues do in fact become clearer and more clearly discussed. For the moment, it's more a war of position. There are something like sixty days to go...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 02:19:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There used to be a center party until the end of the fourth republic ; it was called the radicals (it used to be a leftist party, back when the socialists wouldn't get in a bourgeois government in the 19th century). It split into two parts during the fifth republic, one part (the Parti Radical de Gauche) being a small ally of the PS, another (Parti Radical Valoisien) which used to be a part of the UDF, until it allied with the UMP with Borloo (and don't call him center ; he introduced the "easy to fire" CNE and CPE). Both parties are very small.

Bayrou has consistently been to the right of that party. In 1994 he introduced the reform of the Falloux law, allowing the easier financing of private schools by collectivité locales, and got one million strong demonstrations in the streets... And now you find teachers voting for him. Oh well.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 05:24:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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