Monday, April 23, 2007

French Presidentials: The winner (for the moment) is: Bayrou

Sarkozy, Royal, and Bayrou have all celebrated yesterday. Perhaps, paradoxically, the happiest was Bayrou, who claims to have created a new political movement from scratch. He's probably right, as 18,5 % of support is a very hefty portion of the electorate.

Royal and Sarkozy looked more tense. They have to look ahead and prepare for the second round in two weeks time.

I think that the second round will be more a referendum about Sarkozy than a competition between the two candidates. He's in a very good position and at this point he can only lose the contest. If for example the global turn out will be lower, but his electorate will keep on voting, this will mean that he will start with a 35/40 % basis. To reach 50 + % will not be terribly difficult.

Much will depend on what Bayrou's supporters will do. It is likely, however, that Bayrou will not take a public stance in favour of either candidate. To do so, would subsume his new political centre to either right or left, and that is precisely what he wants to avoid as his message is:
we are a 3rd fully independent force.

This will count massively in the legislative elections, which may end up giving some further surprises.


Anonymous said...

Hello boys. Sorry to disagree Lorenzo. So far Bayrou has done close to nothing for a simple reason. His score is due to the rejection of Royal, by typical socialist voters, and of Sarkozy, by typical UMP voters. There fore his success seems very much linked to a punctual situation ; and if either Sarkozy or Royal leave the spotlight after the elections, things should get back to normal with an UDF around 10%. During the weeks prior to the elections, some of his closest advisors (J-L Bourlanges in this case) said they were very afraid that if Bayrou was not second or third, the political force which he represents would be wiped clean during the legislative elections. In the past, they were able to gain many seats in Parliament thanks to the agreements they had with the UMP (hence the choice of several leaders from the UDF to fallow Sarkozy rather that Bayrou who will probably be less able to preserve their positions of power). Having heard that several times, I was very surprised to see how happy Bayrou seemed yesterday night. I can't help thinking that it isn't authentic happiness. If he doesn't show that he believes he can create a new movement, no one will. He had no other choice than to pretend he was really satisfied with the result; he’s trying to start a movement, he can’t look depressed.

All night yesterday and all day today, I've hearing politicians, journalists and scholars say how great it is for democracy that Sarkozy was able to win back votes that went to Le Pen in previous elections. I think that, the very fact people don't see what is wrong with that shows what kind of a problem we have on our hands. The way Sarkozy was able to appeal to these voters was by picking up Le Pen's discourse, using his words, his images and often his very expressions. Worst, parts of his program are inspired by Le Pen’s, so the similarity isn’t only formal – substantially, their views of society, authority, foreigners, national identity are close. Sarkozy doesn't say the contrary, Le Pen certainly recognizes it. So what has happened? Words and ideas which were before called "racist", "dangerous", "intolerant" are now called "democratic". Somehow it has now become acceptable to defend Le Pen's ideas. Thank you Sarkozy indeed! The fact that his overwhelming success yesterday was due to his ability to appeal to the far right, using partially the FN's racist, authoritative, violent program is a very scary thing for the future in this country.

Raphaƫl Paour

Srdjan Cvijic said...

I agree with a number of the points you raise Raphael, esspecially those referring to Sarkozy swinging to the right. One must closely watch at what will he offer to Le Pen's voters to incite them to vote for him, introduction of a proportional representation system at the legislative elctions possibly? However, I disagree with one point Bayrou is the king maker, if he has the courage to risk and shift in support of Royal but under the condition that she agrees to form a governing coallition after legislative elections. In this way France would follow a political process already in place in Italy, along the lines of the Blarite shift, that is transformation of the traditional left into a third way political groupaion. She would inevitably lose some votes on the far left, whether she will be elected this is a real question?

Lorenzo Zucca said...

Raph, I think that Lepen, even if He is hardly acceptable, has concerns that are shared by many people in France. To address those problems is a way of living in a democracy: you try and capture the mood of the majority of people. Sarkozy 'stole' some of Le Pen's concerns but presented them in a way that is acceptable by French standards. Now, if you want to say that French standards of democratic discourse are low and that many people are racist and intolerant in a disguised way, I can only agree with you.

My impression on Bayrou may be wrong. It's just a communicative impression. From that viewpoint, I found that Sarkozy was quite nervous, and Royal was very rigid after the result. I think they both feel that they have to do a lot to make sure that they win. Royal more than Sarkozy... I think.

Bayrou has a clear strong result, which is a very strong progression from last time he run (In 2002 he had 4% or so; today he almost has 19). He is, if he wants, the Queen maker as Srdjan says. But I am not sure he wants to settle on a compromise at this moment. He would probably work on this result to have a good result at the parliamentary elections and then he will decide.

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