Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Celebrity Royal to lead the French left to Presidency ?

by Agnes a Paris Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 06:04:59 AM EST

France is much heralded this Thursday in the Financial Times, between the Mittal take-over on Arcelor, the on-going predicament of Thierry Breton and an article dedicated to Ségolène (a typical "bourgeois" first name) Royal.

Ségolène endorses many of Tony Blair's ideas, in particular his success in curbing youth unemployment through more "flexibility" and "security".

How do we feel, in France and abroad, about having a pro-Blair candidate for the next Presidential election ?

From the diaries, with format edit ~ whataboutbob


The first stage will be the pre-selection caucus next September where her major adversary will be her partner and father of her children, François Hollande. That first stage is sure to be interesting as Ségolène declared that François and her, partners since the seventies although not married, will decide "as a couple" who of them will stand as candidate to the caucus.

Notably, we have two very different psychological profiles here. François is more likely to gentlemanly withdraw from the race in favor of Ségolène, which would also spare him the discomfort of a vote in caucus that could well favour Ségolène. Exit by the front door with the honour of having promoted his partner. Not being housted out by a woman.
Parents of five childern (or is that six) the Hollande-Royal couple may well be left wing, they are more of representatives of the gauche caviar than modernity pioneers.
The decision is not only about self-esteem though, it is also political : letting a woman lead a major party to Presidential election would be a premiere in France, a country  still very conservative as to having "minorities" fill the political top positions.

Ségolène Royal, the rising star of the French Socialist party, is a keen admirer of Tony Blair and could draw on some of the UK prime minister's policies if elected France's first woman president in next year's elections.

For the rest of the article, dive below the fold.
It is a pity that I cannot seem able to include photos of Ségolène. You would understand better why she is so popular ...

Royal the favourite to reign over left in French politics

Display:
Photos? Who's got the photos?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 11:11:17 AM EST
Well, those are even better than the ones I struggled (and failed) to post with my diary. Thank you !

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 11:19:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having recently struggled to post pictures I can commiserate. I think I've figured it out so I'll try to share the magic:

  1. You need to get the URL for the picture (thing I didn't grasp at first).
  2. you need the code to insert the image into your ET post.

For step one the revised ET New user guide now  gives detailed instructions:

Getting the URL of an image you see on some webpage goes as follows:

    * If you use Firefox, just right-click the image itself, and you shall see an option "Copy image URL" - choose that, then move over to the window where you edit your EuroTrib diary or comment. Once there, Edit > Paste the copied URL into the text of your comment.
    * If you use Microsoft Explorer, also right-click the image, choose "Properties", and you shall see a pop-up window with various data, among them the URL. Mark it with your mouse (all of it if there is a line wrap!), then right-click it and choose "Copy". Move over to the window where you edit your EuroTrib diary or comment, and Edit > Paste the copied URL into the text of your comment.

For example, I went to the following site where you have a picture of Ségolène:
http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/12/tribun/fiches_id/2650.asp
Once on the site I right clicked on the picture and got a menu that includes "copy image location" I just selected that and then came back here and pasted the URL here:
http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/tribun/photos/2650.jpg

For step #2 I used one of the three versions mentioned in the New User Guide: http://www.eurotrib.com/special/new_user_guide#howpic

I cut & pasted this together:
< img src="http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/tribun/photos/2650.jpg">

and deleted the space so there is no space before img

result - et voilà!

I hope this helps.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 05:11:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many Thanks Alexandra, this is so nice of you to have taken the time to help me.
I really did need someone to help me through the instruction of the new user guide. I will try and exercise myself.
BTW, I am looking fwd to seeing your seven by seven selection.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 05:26:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seven by seven done. Thanks for the invitation.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 11:52:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So Agnes, how would you describe her policy stance? The FT trumpets a Blair lens to view her through, is there more to the story than this?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 04:32:26 PM EST
That's what I still need to check ;-) Le Monde was only too happy to stick to the FT editorial stance.
Remind me I owe it to you to check it up.


When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 04:36:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I must admit this is what gave me bad feelings, too. We don't need another Continental European centre-left leader who is a Bliar clone, even if she is a woman (and being an enarque, she is no real elite-buster either). But I'll wait for more from the France-resident posters on how much British press spin and how much truth is behind this.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 09:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She did not trumpet anything that you'd remotely identify as Blairite. She said that Blair had a bad reputation in France despite massively increasing spending on health and education and conducting an effectively keynesian policy, and therefore that views on Blair were poorly informed.

It's actually an interesting twist on Blairism...

She said that the labor market needed more flexibility, but also more security, especially for younger workers, and that it was done better nowadays in the Uk than in France. That theme of security in the labor market is one of her regular topics/talking points.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 10:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tout se perd If Le Monde can no longer be trusted even for factual information...

Ségolène Royal vante le blairisme et prend le PS de court

rusty translation : Ségolène Royal over the merits of blairism- PS taken aback


When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill

by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 10:41:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Makes you wonder how many in the PS have actually read the original article in the FT and are not merely reacting to Le Monde's asking them something like "what do you think of Royal's praise of Blair?".

Any hope of a link to Royal's original article online?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 10:48:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I checked, it works. At least one thing I manage to do with html. :-)

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 10:52:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My bad. I actually undestood this
L'hommage rendu par Ségolène Royal à Tony Blair, dans le Financial Times du 2 février
to mean she had written an op-ed or something, which was almost absurd on its face, but still... It's Friday.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 11:04:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference between "vante le blairisme" and "rend hommage à Tony Blair" is really thin.
Means the same, basically.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 11:07:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In any case it's a misrepresentation of what she said... But if you assume Le Monde wants to torpedo the PS's front-runner it makes a lot of sense. Now she'll have to spend time reassuring PS members that she's not a Blairite instead of debating the other candidates.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 11:10:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I mean is that I had found the article you link, but I thought I was searching for something else unsuccessfully.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 11:11:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am the slower one, then, on this Friday afternoon...:)

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 11:53:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in the FT:


I think Tony Blair has been caricatured in France. It does not bother me to claim adherence to some of his ideas," Ms Royal told the FT. "He has reinvested in public services. On youth unemployment, he has had real success by using more flexibility but also more security."

"Young graduates are better treated in the UK than in France, so it is not just for tax reasons that so many of our young are leaving France to go and work in the City of London," said Ms Royal, distancing herself from her party's deeply ingrained suspicion of Anglo-Saxon capitalism and Blairism. "We must not be blocked on any issues - like the 35-hour week, for instance," she said.

However, Ms Royal may disappoint any overseas investors hoping she could become the acceptable face of French socialism, as her ideas seem to be equally inspired by late president François Mitterrand, her former political master.

"How can the government cut public sector recruitment while the interior minister is calling for more police in schools, on trains and in the suburbs?"

She is also a critic of the government's labour market reforms, giving small businesses and employers of young people more flexibility by allowing them to fire staff easily in the first two years of a contract. "It is bad. It hits youth and gives them the wrong message by devaluing work," she said.

But of course the FT introduced the article with:


Ségolène Royal, the rising star of the French Socialist party, is a keen admirer of Tony Blair and could draw on some of the UK prime minister's policies if elected France's first woman president in next year's elections.

Her comments may surprise some people. While Mr Blair is widely admired by Europe's social democrats for reinvigorating the Labour party, that view is not widely held in France where many socialists who would otherwise be aligned with the Blair project see him as a crypto-Thatcherite.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 10:53:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She is also a critic of the government's labour market reforms, giving small businesses and employers of young people more flexibility by allowing them to fire staff easily in the first two years of a contract.

It is easy though to use the CPE as a communication tool. So obvious to win people's support by criticising that contract
See my diary Of the flexible marketplace and those left behind

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 10:59:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you Jérôme, but you could have saved your time by just clicking on the link...
Royal the favourite to reign over left in French politics


When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 11:05:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This emphasis on Blair and "Anglo-Saxon capitalism" seems to me mostly spin put in by the FT: Look! A French politician who approves of Blair! (and the "reform" agenda, and...). Stop the presses!

Before we know it, she'll be rumored to support the White House GWOT and be invited to Crawford, TX (just kidding...).

Plus: the FT staff can enjoy the perverse satisfaction of having thrown even more discord in the French left. Priceless....

by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 03:51:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess the controversy would dissipate if the PS notables had the ability to 1) get over their sexist attitudes; and 2) read the FT article for themselves. Alas, it shall not be.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 04:10:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A good test would be her stance on the CPE (contrat premier emploi) which is a clear step towards making it even more difficult for young employees to settle in a job. We discussed it 2 weeks ago.
So much for security in the labour market.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 10:45:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm backing her. If the PS has a clue, they will too.
by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 01:06:34 AM EST
-She has the grades : not only  ENA (almost compulsory if you want to make it to the top in French administration and politics) but also barrister, which she passed in 1994 while already seating at the Parliament (Assemblée Nationale) and at the Conseil General (equivalent to a county chamber)

-She has the track record
--in charge of portfolios both in left wing(headed by Beregovoy and Jospin) and right wing (from March 2001 to March 2002 in Martine Aubry's Ministry for Employment and Social affairs) governments

--Parliament member for a long time, she has an experience of winning direct electoral mandates (unlike current Prime Minister  Villepin)

-She has the guts the tasks she was in charge of while at the government were not easy one. Among others, the ZEP (zones d'éducation prioritaires) programme aimed at developing the education system in the less affluent (and most restless) French suburban areas.

-She is young (by French standards when it comes to politicians) and attractive, and she has the communication skills, something that not only Jospin, but the bulk of the French leading politicians, miss cruelly.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill

by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 05:31:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]

and right wing (from March 2001 to March 2002 in Martine Aubry's Ministry for Employment and Social affairs) governments

What do you mean by a "right wing" government? It was still a socialist government under Jospin

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 06:24:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My mistake. I was looking at a picture of Ségolène in close talks with J. Chirac when I wrote that sentence.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 08:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's just hope the PS has a clue.
BTW, if they had a clue, they would have renamed their party to something less evocative of the past area.
The shadow of Mitterrand is still looming over this party in desperate quest for a proper leader (not that he was not a good leader, quite the contrary) and prevents them from building up a new image.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 06:05:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I apologize for not keeping up with current movements, but wasn't the RPR's Michelle Alliot-Marie also being talked about as a possible candidate? Has this changed?

I'm curious about the possibility of two women candidates for the presidency. Thanks.

by gradinski chai on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 05:39:17 AM EST
Indeed.
However, it will be  tricky for the moderate right (as they can be labelled) to come up with one single candidate.
As you know, there are two big centre-right parties in France, UMP (RPR re-labelled) and UDF. It seems unlikely IMHO that UDF will consent to go along with UMP with a single candidate for the first round of the election.
So maybe UMP will go with Michelle Alliot Marie, but this also seems unlikely. Nicolas Sarkozy has been waiting for his hour of glory for so long ...

There has been a woman running for French presidential elections fro a long time : Arlette Laguiller, from Force Ouvrière (a left left wing party) but she never went beyond the 5% threshold in the first round of the election.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 05:52:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a pity Alex in Toulouse cannot be around (for connection reasons). He could certainly contribute interesting information. What about the other French, and living in France, Euroi Tribers ?
Jérôme, Francois in Paris, afew, LEP ? What do you think ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 05:57:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Royal's possible candidancy indeed raises a few topics for discussion:

Women stepping up in the French political game sounds like a good thing, but will it prove a handicap or an advantage for her to be a woman when running for the presidency? Even some supposedly progressive and open-minded leaders of the PS had some quite shocking macho comments at the time she announced her possible candidacy to the PS internal caucus. My guess is that if she were to represent the PS in the national election, she would probably draw quite a few votes from the center/undecided electorate, from women obviously but also men willing to see things changing a bit.  However, I am affraid it will be difficult for her to win the internal PS caucus (too many factions, not necessarily the most 'enlightened' militant base).

PS is flooded with potential candidates.  Why her?  After all, she was not one of the most visible left wing politicians of late (mostly junior portfolio positions, no major reforms carried out, not the most prominent local council, etc.). When she appeared 10/15 years ago, she was quite aggressive and outspoken (but no necesarily pragmatic, constructive and efficient unlike some other PS women of her generation), and frankly I was not impressed.  Since then, she has avoided confontation or positioning on key issues (I may be wrong, but I do not remmeber her taking a strong stance on the European constitution poll last year). Actually, this is probably why she makes sense as a PS candidate and she could be the one able to bridge both edges of the divided political PS party.

Now, will PS win it?

'La fin désastreuse a répondu aux moyens indignes' Germain Tillion

by Rom on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 06:53:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks for your comment.
Who will be the next French President is not a small issue, even if the international community got used to see us represented by someone who does not exactly embody trustworthiness and credibility.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 08:58:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, we have to give not only take info here on Eurotrib... but I follow Ségolène royal not so closely.
I feel she didn't make the news so much because of her policies or what she stand for, but because of how she relates to the people - quite different from the usual poles. And as I am not exposed anymore to the whole french media, I guess I missed a lot of her presence, which were more in the "people" or feel-good part, which does not come through in the  media I have access to abroad.

 My impressionistic feeling, letting all what I recall filter down, is that she had a relative down to earth, no-nonsense way of managing her portfolios and local executive mandates.
I  couldn't for the sake of me figure her economics inclinations, that means they are probably pretty ENA-mainstream (did you notice by the way that even Sarkozy, who should be a neo-liberal from his political positioning, believes sometimes  in state "dirigisme" and "champion national"? You can't escape your ENA mold).
She only stood out a bit in some new territories (family, ecologism). That makes sense, considering that with her differences with the other politicians -younger, unmarried mother- she was likely to be the first there.

Not the most unworthy of the bunch -see above the fact sheets of Agnes. But I have some doubts it happens: french politic does not allow  fresh air, it has to let it climb through the floors of the pyramid till it is not so fresh anymore...
Unless you are already in the embalming room of the president, then it goes faster, but you probably stinks already too . N'est ce pas Dominique?

The constellation inside of the socialist party is really weird: years without a recognized leader after Jospin, a bloody battle -constitution- not so long ago about a still unresolved party line, a lot of contenders, 2 of them a couple.
How it can play out is everybody guess.

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

by lacordaire on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 10:55:07 AM EST
After reading the FT piece I'm not at all convinced it shows Royal as a Blairite. It's the journalist who's giving his article "teeth" by saying that. I'd note that the first thing she says to back up her polite assertion of admiration for Blair is that he has upped public spending (not a thing Blair likes to have said about him...) As for the CPE, she speaks against it.

The article in Le Monde quotes members of the PS who were no doubt happy to line her up with Tony Blair and shoot at her. It also quotes, lower down, clear occasions on which she has shown non-Blairite attitudes (again, on precarious job contracts, for example).

All in all, the two newspaper articles seem to me to spin her more Blairite than she is (for reasons proper to each paper, no doubt).

The other points you make about Royal, Agnes, seem to be:

  1. énarque : undoubtedly true, and I would expect of Royal that (if elected) she would fit the French admin class mould in her basic views and assumptions.

  2. champagne left : more than any other PS leader bar perhaps Aubry or Jospin? In fact I think she's got a more BCBG (bon chic, bon genre) image as someone who comes from a solid, traditional family background (image that helps her pull in support from the centre).

  3. celebrity : she has gone in lately for photo-ops. But Sarkozy and Villepin do this, (plus go on TV when they like), and if she's going to run, they're the men to beat (polls are out for the first time showing she could do it). Otherwise, is she a celeb because she's a good-looking woman in politics? Does that mean she should put on fifteen kilos and stomp around like Godzilla to be taken seriously?

My feeling is this: I don't think for a minute she has a Blairite agenda. I expect, however, she's more centrist than I am. It will still take some time to be sure her current polls are going to hold up. But if they confirm over time that she's the best candidate the PS can field, she should run.

And wouldn't it be nice to have a (good-looking or not) woman president of this damn macho country?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 03:20:25 PM EST
Thanks for the detailed reply, and at this place similar thanks to Jérôme and Agnès for their share in dismantling the Ségolène-is-a-Bliarite spin.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 03:50:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Once again, I agree with you afew. This tends to become an habit, a good one though.
It is comforting to hear that words in the mouth of a man, indeed, if she is to make a difference, why shouldn't she put her good-looks in the balance ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Feb 15th, 2006 at 03:50:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Segolène; a long time ago, I had a good opinion of her; but then, something is fishy in her profile : she is the daughter of an army-man - can't remember wether general or anything else; anyhow in my mind, the kind of lady which is on the "law and order" side just like Sarkozy, which, if I remember is correct (when she was in power, she forbid youngster of less than twelve to stay out after a certain hour at night) and which I don't mind as long as it stays within reasonable limits.
To my eyes she certanly is a leftist bourgeois as well as Blair is a leftist ultra-liberal (if it makes any sense...)
One morning, I was listening to my usual radio station during breakfast, and she was being interviewed. She was talking about rapists; the young rapists who do "tournantes" in the "cités" (more or less the same places where they recently burnt cars); she was talking about them as poor chaps who had not had enough love in their life, she was taking their defense; poor guys, we really should'nt be too hard on them.
From that day, I decided this woman, however clever and sarkosy-energetic-like and pretty-photogenic she may be, was not a woman of common sense and should not become president. the youngsters behave that way thinking their punishment will not be very harsh (or maybe not thinking at all which is also a problem); I am not convinced the mothers of the youngsters have not loved them, they may have loved them too much, and the guys may have lacked the authority of a father, and the learning of what must be respected, of law.
I usually find woman from french politics very interesting, they have courage, it is so difficult for them to get there (in France) that they sometimes seem more free in their speach than many men. But for the moment, I would not trust Segolene - (but then who would I trust?)
by Bridget on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 06:58:55 PM EST
There is a way to interpret her curfews other than "law and order" which is more consistent with her sympathetic approach to youth rapist gangs: she's being motherly. That may or may not be a bad thing. I remember a very amusing seminar with young (male) Scandinavian writers, and the Norwegian talked about how his generation were all "sons of Gro Harlem Brundtland".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 07:05:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry, I happen to be a mother too, and I don't think being being motherly should lead to be so irresponsible; I believe on the contrary, she would have had very different words had her own young daughters been living in one of those rather dangerous-for-unveiled-girls cités; and she would have been extremely severe had one of her beloved sons been anywhere near to raping a young girl; well at least I hope so; somewhat, it was the image I had of her, a humane and positive image, that her words that day, distroyed.
by Bridget on Sat Feb 4th, 2006 at 06:24:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries