Many people pointed out that, as Lorenzo did, that the elections in Germany raise some of the same questions as the ones addressed during the different referendums for the European constitution: the liberal turn is depicted by government parties as an absolute necessity for European countries while a strong left wing minority is fiercely opposed to it. This opposition is able, some times with the help far right racist parties, some times with the help of radical liberals, to lead to situations of blockage of the institutions.
In France, the leaders of the Parti socialiste believe that they failed in the presidential elections in 2002 and at the referendum on the European constitution last spring because of those small radical left wing parties who drew the votes which made them win before. Afraid that it will lead to more defeats in the future, the leaders of this party have realized that time had come to reposition themselves clearly on the political scale. There are those who would move in the direction of the radicals (Fabius/Mélanchon and Nouveau parti socialiste/Emmanuelli) and those who would move further away from them (Hollande, Aubry, Jospin, Strauss-Kahn). The strategy of the first group is clearly to regain the votes lost to the little parties and eventually make alliances with them. The strategy of the second group is seemingly to regain the votes lost to right wing parties and maybe to fulfil the old dream of winning over the “center”. In two months time, a congress will take place in which the Parti socialiste will decide the direction it will follow in the coming years.
Some can be scandalized that small radical parties are able to force large and respectable institutions such as the PS into tensed decision making. I think that it is great. Deciding clearly on the ideological orientations of a party cannot be bad. No matter which way it goes, it is a first positive consequence for the left wing, of the rejection of the European constitution. It might happen in Germany as well.