Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Royal’s defeat

Just a quick one on Royal’s defeat as well. Here are some obvious reasons why she lost:

1. A normal election in France ends with right winning, just like the social democrats have the natural majority in the Scandinavian countries. Remember, we have only had one socialist President in the Fifth Republic; Mitterrand.

2. Sarkozy did a great job of positioning himself as the candidate if you wanted change, even though he was part of the sitting government earlier this year.

3. Royal’s economic platform was portrayed as too weak and unrealistic; Sarkozy seemed to be the guy who could take care of France’s economic problems.

Moreover, one can discuss if Royal got the backing she deserved in her own party, the fact that she was the first female candidate to become President, the extent to which Sarkozy flirted openly with Le Pen’s voters and used a disgusting populist, anti-immigration rhetoric, etc etc.

However, Sarkozy’s victory also scares me in more than one way:

1. Sarkozy doesn’t think that Turkey belongs in Europe and has promised a referendum on Turkish EU-membership. I would like to see Turkey in the EU, when the Copenhagen criteria are met etc etc, but on this road a major stumbling block just crashed down.

2. Sarkozy doesn’t support the original European Constitution; he prefers a mini-draft, in which a lot of the social and political gains made in the original draft will be dropped. So, by first rejecting the original Constitution and then losing the presidential election, the French left really owes the European left a huge excuse. Why, comrades?

3. Sarkozy’s populist, anti-immigration rhetoric may move the European political climate to the right on issues relating to citizens rights, integration, immigration, migration etc.

4. One of EU:s most important countries, the great country of France, with a unique veto in the UN Security Council, will now continue to be in the hands of the right. Merkel in Germany, Sarkozy in France, Cameron beats Brown in Britain and then the Prodi’s government falls into pieces… That is not a nice scenario for the European left.

5. I have just never trusted the French right.

However, two things might be good.

1. The French Socialist Party might finally have its Bad Godesberg moment and shape up its economic outlook on the world and become a normal, European social democratic party when it comes to economic policy.

2. Sarkozy might implement a few needed economic reforms, which in the end will benefit working people and people desperately looking for jobs.

OK, that’s my take on it, time to hit the streets of Washington DC again.

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Blogger Anna, Fair and True said...

I wasn't happy with the commentary on Swedish television. They said he won because he was more President-like, was thought to be able to deliver results, and then lots of other adjectives usually defined as "male" and thus good qualities. Blä!

8/5/07 22:17  
Anonymous Esra said...

Eric, your "to the point" analyses are very much inspiring for me( a candidate of a social scientist). You summarized the picture so accurate that Economist's editor should also consider since they do miss many points that you have touched upon.Thank you.

9/5/07 01:59  
Blogger DeTocqueville said...

Ah Eric, you make me laugh --What's this? You have never trusted the "French" right? You have never trust the "right" of any country, anywhere, in the history of modern civilization!

You wouldn't trust the French right if Bruce Springsteen became a French citizen and was elected President.

It's also interesting that the major complaints against Sarko are foreign policy related -- Turkey, immigration, EU constitution, UNSC, etc., etc., yet you concede that his economic platform was stronger.

While Sarko's FP-related issues are certainly worrying, it's difficult to argue that the current domestic track in economics was the correct way forward. If Sarko modernises France's outdated labor practices and delayes Turkey's entry to the EU by another five years, I would bet that even you might take that deal...

9/5/07 18:43  
Blogger Eric Sundström said...

Anna and Esra -- great to hear from you and thanks for checking the blog.

Tocqueville -- but don't you agree the history of the French right is even scarier than in some other European countries? Anyway, you have a point, I am always pretty partisan. :-)

I think that different things were good in Sarko's and Sego's economic platforms, and I agree some of Sarko's proposals might be necessary. But some of his domestic policies scares me as well, for example anytime he starts talking about integration issues.

And Turkey's road to the EU will be long anyway, and I fear he don't intend to delay it, but to block it for a few generations.

10/5/07 16:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it comes to the PS's capacity to "become a normal, European social democratic party when it comes to economic policy", I agree it's fundamental to the French left's future, but I'm a sceptic.

It's much more likely the party will regress once more into internal power battles and dig deep trenches they can't get out of. I truly hope I'm no where close to the truth on this one.


11/5/07 09:26  
Blogger Brian Booth said...

Hey there.

As you would have guessed, I don't quite agree on the bad-godesberg part - but I recently felt much better by reading that I'm not the only one:

Pretty good article to be read in Le Monde here:

30/5/07 12:00  

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