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by Maurice Ulrich

What for? Suspense in the French Presidential Primaries

Translated Thursday 30 June 2011, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Martine, François, Ségolène, Arnaud, Manuel, François, Étienne, Jean-Louis...
For some time in New York the suspense had been unbearable. It should come to an end tomorrow.

Martine is going to make her presidential candidacy public. How ever are François and Ségolène [1] going to react to the news? Will Arnaud and Manuel [2] be able to sing their little songs? Jack [3] himself, never at a loss for words, protested that the Socialist party did not “play the card of the primaries all the way”, with the result that some outstanding figures of the party were prevented from proposing their candidacies, this being the fault of party apparatchiks on all sides.” It is clear that he would have stood in the primaries himself and that it is a great loss to us that he couldn’t: just think of it, a man who invented the Fête de la musique!

But all this should not blind us to momentous events that are taking place elsewhere. At the centre of the picture (never mind exactly which centre) Bayrou, Morin, Borloo [4] & Co are jockeying for position but there are so many of them that the place looks no bigger than a phone booth.

Hence the problem, as Jean-Louis Borloo explains in the Journal du Dimanche, which is NOT to know if X wants to be candidate, but “who he is, what values he promotes, and what he intends to do.”

Precisely. That’s what we have been asking ourselves after Jean-Louis’s three years on the cabinet.

[1Martine Aubry, François Hollande, Ségolène Royal are prominent figures in the French Socialist Party (PS). The first is the party’s current general secretary, the second is the party’s former general secretary, the third ran for the party in the 2007 race and lost to Nicolas Sarkozy.

[2Arnaud Montebourg and Manuel Valls are contestants within the party

[3Jack Lang, a socialist senator, was Minister for Culture in Jospin’s government (2002-2007). He has lately proved inclined to accept honourable missions from Nicolas Sarkozy. His voting in favour of the constitutionalization of the Lisbon treaty in 2008 when the National Assembly and the Senate convened in Versailles resulted in Nicolas Sarkozy getting the two-third majority he required.

[4François Bayrou, a dissident from Sarkozy’s UMP and founder of a centrist party, lost to Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal in the first round of the 2007 presidential race; Étienne Morin, a neo-liberal, was Minister for the Armies under Nicolas Sarkozy; and Jean-Louis Borloo himself was recently Minister for the Environment.

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