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Thursday April 26 2007


Because of the runoff structure, an electorate which would, in aggregate, prefer to see Bayrou rather than Sarkozy as president, will instead get Sarkozy, because in the first round, many of those who preferred Bayrou to Sarkozy also preferred Royal to Bayrou.

Somebody called, of New York, says this.

I say: silly them.  If they really hated Sarkozy that much, they should have voted for Bayrou first time around.  That they didn’t suggests they don’t really hate the guy that much.

My absolute least favourite thing about “Free exchange” is that we are not told who writes it.  “” is not a mind I wish to spend any time getting acquainted with, thank you.

If they really hated Sarkozy that much, they should have voted for Bayrou first time around.

Well, if they really do hate Sarkozy that much they may vote for Royal. The danger here is that Sarkozy’s voters have all voted for him already, and that everybody else really does hate him and he therefore can’t pick up the additional 20% he needs in the second round. This looks possible to me. In fact, I think it looks likely. My hunch is that Royal will win.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 26 April 2007

"My hunch is that Royal will win.”

Heh. I knew Sarkozy would win when the BBC stopped linking to opinion polls after the TV debate.

Royal nearly lost the region she was the elected president of (Poitou Charentes). Sarkozy also won in Marseille with a bigger margin than nationally: I thought North Africans were a majority in that town, maybe some of them (secretly) want youth crime stamped on too.

You can actually look up scores in tiny villages or by département here:

Nearly everywhere I’ve ever been to in France was won by Sarkozy. He also won 60% in Corsica and even managed to win almost half the overseas territories, like French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

Basically, Sarkozy got the half of the Le Pen vote that isn’t rabidly racist in the first round, all the conservative votes and even got MORE Bayrou votes in the second round than Royal did (funny how this contradicts the BBC line). Basically, Royal was a lightweight, the French equivalent of a “Blair Babe.”

No U.S. Democrat has got as big a majority in a presidential election since Lydon Johnson cashed in on the Kennedy assasination in 1964 as Sarkozy got in France. So a little less reporting about “he needs to unite the country” would be in order from the leftist press.

BTW, in my constituency, Neuilly-sur-Seine where he is remembered as a low-tax, effective mayor, Sarkozy got over 80% of the vote. Knowing that Neuilly is immediately to the West of Paris, it is no coincidence that Sarkozy’s vote was higher the closer to the Porte Maillot one checked and lowest the further East one went.

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 09 May 2007

Fair enough. I thought Royal would pick up most of the Bayrou vote. It didn’t happen, so Sarkozy won. You are right - the voters went for the candidate who appeared the most competent.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 09 May 2007

The really good news was the collapse of the hard left. People like José Bové came nowhere. In fact the environmentalists came pretty poorly (Brian take note, is this a new French trend: the Green tide has reached its ebb?). The French Socialist Party, which was created as an anti-Marxist movement, is still there hovering between 18% and 28%, but it has lost its coalition allies, which is deadly in a two-round contest.

Some are describing this as the burial of 1968 (Sarkozy himself claims this). Arguably it is the burial of French Communism. The Communist candidate didn’t even use the Party name and got about 1.5% IIRC. A far cry from the 30% of the 1950s and early 1960s.

In fact the significance of Bayrou could be a return to something more like the IIIrd Republic, where a Radical (secular and various types of liberal) Party occupies the centre and sides with either the moderate Socialists or the Conservatives. This is not necessarily bad.

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 09 May 2007

Antoine, I’m puzzled with your description of the French Socialist party.
What’s the program of the socialist party if they are created as anti-Marxist?
Contradiction in terms.

Please explain.

Posted by Tat on 09 May 2007


No contradiction. Marxism is only a subset of Communist beliefs, never mind Socialism.

In about 1920 the International Socialist movement split with the SFIO (French Section of the Workers’ International, the original name of the Marxist party) taking a Berstein route of recognising the democratic process, pushing for social democratic reforms and explicitly rejecting violence or the General Strike as a means of destroying capitalism. In 1906, meanwhile, the Anarchists had taken over the CGT (the labor union confederation) and got its program changed to one of a “general strike to destroy the bourgeois state,” and no negotiations with the bosses.

The Communists were then divided into followers of the Bolchevik revolution in Russia in November 1917 (who favored civil war) and anarcho-syndicalists (who favored the General Strike). These later split into followers of Stalin (the majority), Trotsky and the various philosophical sub-groups of Marxism and Bakuninism (always opposing Marx for being a statist).

The SFIO consistently opposed fascism, unlike the Communists who supported the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939 right up till the launch of Operation Barbarossa. It also allied itself when possible with the left wing of the Radical Party. It supported massive nationalization of businesses and high taxes, but did not favor the abolition of all private property and the extermination of its enemies. The orthodox Communists didn’t approve of who was put in gas chambers (sometimes) and who put them there (sometimes), but not the principle of extermination. the SFIO eventually got control of a labor union confederation (the CFDT).

François Mitterrand joined the SFIO about the end of the second world war, having been a member of the fascist youth in the 1930s and being awarded a medal by Marshall Pétain in 1941 IIRC. He founded the Parti Socialiste with the clear intention of destroying the Parti Communiste Français (PCF), which in the early 1960s was still the dominant electoral force on the French Left (and until the late 1990s was still Stalinist or at best hardline Brezhnevite). You could be expelled in 1990 (and put on the black lists) for questioning the Hungary uprising of 1956 “a Western attempted invasion by fascist counter-revolutionaries”, never mind the Prague Spring of 1968. Gorbachev, of course, was no better than Mussolini for these guys. The PCF leader (Georges Marchais, who in 1941, was helping the Nazis speed up the production of aircraft engines) was the first foreign political leader to congratulate the USSR for “liberating” Afghanistan in 1979.

There are those who claim Mitterrand was somehow blackmailed into working to destroy the Left from within. He renamed the SFIO as the Parti Socialiste in about 1965. It is worth noting that when he was President (1981-1995), the Soviet leaders hated him far worse than any other European leader, a fact confirmed by Brian Crozier in his autobiographical book, Free Agent. I reckon the Soviets had their reasons.

As President, Mitterrand authorized: a war against Libya (from Chad) which he won, covert help for the British in the Falklands War, the bomb attack on a Greenpeace ship which screwed up because someone was killed, a Spanish death squad to take out ETA terrorists in France (several times). If he were the US president in 2001, the war on terror would probably not be over yet, but it would be intensely ugly and some of the Islamists would be trying to figure out a way out. In about 1958, as Interior Minister, Mitterrand authorised the use of torture and the “liquidation” of Algerian nationalists, according to General Aussares’ memoirs.

Meanwhile, the USA was helping the Soviet-backed FLN “insurgents” operate bases in Tunisia , and threatened sanctions if the French bombed* the terrorist training camps, which is one reason the French are happy to watch the US screw up in Iraq now. Le Pen was an officer in Suez (1956) and Algeria (I think he denies having tortured people) and Chirac was already active in politics in the early 1960s.) Wonder why there’s a left-right anti-US consensus in France?

*Mitterrand as Interior Minister was in charge of Algerian affairs but would not have had the authority to propose the bombing Tunisian bases by the French Air Force, that would have been a Foreign Affairs decision.

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 10 May 2007

Wow, an encyclopedic essay. I’ll save it for afterwork, if you don’t mind.
Thank you so much!

Posted by Tat on 10 May 2007

Finally got to read your extended answer, Antoine.

It was a very strange reading, like a childish game of a broken telephone (don’t know the English term for it, sorry), where Brezhnev’s stagnated socialism is somehow placed in close proximity to Stalinism, and Gorbachov considered a positive force.

I didn’t read P.Crozier’ book, nor do I need to - I lived in the country at the time, had sharp eyes and young ears - and I can tell you there was no particular animosity towards Mitterrand; may be a little irritation of somebody who pays for a certain service and doesn’t get what he paid for. I hope you wouldn’t argue that French Left existed on Moscow money, for at least 50 years.

Where did you get your information that US is screwing up in Iraq? Your sources are flawed, then.
Nor do I think Mitterrand would make a good US president. Your argument FOR Mirtterrand is the same one Putin’s proponents give - that he suppresses Chechnia with appropriate violence.  I think they both are closer to National-Socialism, than I can tolerate.
As to why left and right in France are anti-American? (if there is such thing)
Gee...envy? Soured expectations of world leadership? I dunno...and I don’t care to know, really.

Posted by Tatyana on 25 June 2007

Just to point out that Brian Crozier and myself are different people.  Not even related.

Posted by Patrick Crozier on 25 June 2007

1) Patrick is no relation of Brian Crozier.
2) The French Communist Party received several million Francs a year from Moscow. For one thing, there were the 10,000 subscriptions taken out for l’Humanite by the Soviet Embassy (whether all of these were even ever printed is doubtful). The Party is putting up works of art and property up for sale and admits the loss of the Soviet subsidy has never really been replaced.
3) “Where did you get your information that US is screwing up in Iraq? Your sources are flawed, then.”
Let me see. i) How many civilian casualties would it take for you to consider a screw-up? 10,000? 50,000?
ii) Are Iraq’s border secure? No.
iii) Were there more Al Quaeda operatives in Iraq before the US invasion than there are now? No.
iv) Is the region’s second largest oil producer up to speed yet, after ohhh, just FOUR YEARS? No.
v) Are the Kurds more secure now than they were before the invasion? Doubtful, more suicide bomb attacks now in Kurdish areas than in the four years preceding 2003.
vi) Has the invasion of Iraq prevented nuclear proliferation? No because as I noted at the time, both Iran and North Korea were more credible threats.
vii) Is running water and electricity restored yet? I don’t know, but I’d be surprised if it was.
viii) Is it more or less likely that allies will support the US in the next policing operation? Don’t hold your breath…

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 25 June 2007

Sorry, Patrick. I know of at least 3 Croziers, so that was a typo.
Antoine: yawn.

Posted by Tatyana on 25 June 2007

To clarify: that was for your surprisingly CNN-like statements about Iraq.
It is a war, Antoine. Not a joke, not a magician trick, not parade maneuvering. People die at wars. There will be casualties, and many more. Note, however, that so far the casualties inflicted not by Americans, but by intertribal/religious fighting.
I wish our troops were given green light and they could fight the bastards full force, as it’s supposed to be at war, not looking over their shoulders for leftie whiners screaming ‘civilian casualties!’.
Oh, btw - we are winning. Without the dirty-handed French and Russians (remember oil deals? remember those “diplomat” convoys fleeing to Syria, fully loaded?). I like it that Al Quaeda streams to Iraq in numbers: it makes accomodation of their dream of 72 virgins easier.
As to Kurds: let’s ask them, what would they prefer - to be stateless and murdered in droves under Saddam or fight for their freedom in 4-year war.\

Personally, I think our involvement in Iraq war should have ended with our initial military victory. And then we should have turned our force to Iran; Assad would fall in weeks on his own. Iraq would probably partition, with Kurdish state separating - and amen to that; the borders between Arab states are European follies anyway.  But if this is not possible, I prefer the war continue on Iraq territory.

About French commies (why you forgot the socialists, I wonder?) - that’s what I was saying: that they have existed on Soviet money. And the attitude towards Mitterrand in SU leadership was of a customer who got cheated out of his money.

Funny how you say “social democratic reform” as if it’s a good thing. Socialists are much worse than communists - they wiggle between their core marxist principles and concessions to capitalism - since they realized somebody has to bake the pie they were always so eager to cut in their own favor, under the guise of “care for the masses” - and thus prolong the agony. Which should be painfully clear to anyone living in socialist Europe.

Posted by Tatyana on 25 June 2007
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