Monday, June 18, 2007

Politics immitates life... how delicious

One cannot but pause and consider the flabbergasting parallels between French ex-Socialist presidential Segolene Royal's separation from here longtime partner (and current Socialist Party chief) Francois Hollande. For those who do not follow French politics, their relationship was much more than schoolkids playing kissy-face behind the playground: they were, in the best and worst of French time-honored traditions, married. With four children. (And for the announcement, see Le Monde's article. Or in English from the likely-jubilant Times of London.)

While denying that the split had nothing to do with politics, it safely had very much to do with politics, and probably a bit to do with Hollande's bit (see Times article). But the point holds: A domestic dispute has now come to symbolize the near-term evolution of the French Socialist Party, as the two ex-loves wrestle for control.

The problem is that neither one seems to have a viable plan for the shake-up the Socialists desperately need to become "electable" again: If Sego's presidential campaign is a good barometer, she's set to increase social spending without a coherent plan to pay for it, and Hollande, party chief since 1997 is an old voice who hasn't really done anything more than stifle the right-leaning Presidents since he took power. Hollande is due to step down in 2008, but we'll see if he goes earlier.

In the meantime, the PS should really be searching high and low for that dynamic Blairite modernizer: the one who will reign in the unions (assuming Sarko doesn't do it for them!), and openly adopt capitalism and globalization as the undeniable trends of the future. It's unbelievable to have to write that in 2007, but such statements reflect current PS thinking.

Oh, yeah: And Sarko did okay yesterday in round two, as well. While not kicking down any doors (and apparently losing Alan Juppe along the way), the UMP has enough deputies to do as it pleases. It's probably a good thing that the Socialist's capitalized on the UMP's gaffe of announcing a 24%ish VAT target and the "please don't let Sarko do as he pleases" vote. Strong opposition is always a positive thing.

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