Friday, June 22, 2007
Not So Fast
I dashed off an analysis of the Socialists' surprise comeback in second-round parliamentary voting last Sunday. But it was a bit short notice to get it placed anywhere. So in the interests of keeping you all well-informed about the ins and outs of French politics, I offer it to you here as a freebie:
Not So Fast
It’s not quite “Dewey beats Truman”, given that they didn’t actually win the election. But in turning back the UMP’s forecasted “blue tsunami”, the Socialists did manage to take some of the polish off of Nicolas Sarkozy’s victory. Given up for dead just last week, the PS not only avoided a humiliating defeat that had seemed all but certain, they gained (along with their PRG allies) more than fifty seats over their 2002 results. Combined with the small Communist and Green delegations, they limited Sarkosy’s UMP and its allies on the right and center to a 60 percent parliamentary majority, instead of the predicted 70-75 percent.
It’s a testament to how low expectations were that the results reinvigorated the Socialists’ flagging spirits. But while the second-round surge served as a political reprieve for the beleaguered party, it was unclear how lasting the impact would be on its longterm stability. It certainly did nothing to resolve the structural problems that make a clarification of ideology and leadership increasingly necessary. Split between a left-wing determined to preserve the party’s traditional progressive posture, and a social-democrat faction veering increasingly towards the electorally promising center, it seems the PS can only set aside its internal differences when faced with potential disaster.
And even that for only short periods at a time, as demonstrated Sunday evening by a headline announcing in the same breath the separation of the party’s reigning power couple, Ségolène Royal and François Hollande, and Royal’s intention to succeed Hollande as party chairman. No sooner do the Socialists dodge a bullet, it seems, than they re-load the gun and take aim at their foot once again...
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