The fallout of the first round of the French elections rumbles on.
This is a good illustration of what happens when a fringe party has the ‘power’ to help determine the outcome of a presidential election.
Nicolas Sarkozy says he is ‘no one’s hostage’ — referring to Marine Le Pen and centrist François Bayrou. However, he will need some of Le Pen’s 17.9% and Bayrou’s 10% share of the votes if he is to win on May 6. Although he pledged to listen to FN voters’ concerns, he has firmly stated that he will not be doing any deals with the FN as a party. Already a handful of UMP ministers have said that should their party implode before June’s parliamentary elections, they will be voting for Hollande’s Parti Socialiste (PS) over the FN.
François Hollande denies he is out to woo Marine Le Pen’s voters, but a spokesperson on RMC (April 25) said that it is a question of semantics — no ‘courting’, ‘wooing’ or ‘flirting’, only persuasion.
Meanwhile, popular opinion is building against Hollande, sometimes referred to derisively as Flamby (after the crème caramel product Flanby). They have observed that his pleasant and ‘soft’ character will be no match against Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s hard left, including the unions, which are becoming more militant.
French online commenters have also warned about higher taxes under a Hollande government. Hollande has pledged to hire tens of thousands more teachers and police. The French ask how they will afford to pay for more public sector workers: ‘We’re squeezed enough already!’
Hollande has a greater problem in wanting to give immigrants the vote in municipal elections without their first acquiring French nationality. The potential for fraud is immense. This has been a long-running debate over the past year or two. Leftists say that working taxpayers should be able to vote and that it would only be applicable in local elections. But, what about the worker who loses his job or is paid under the table? How does a council track that for electoral purposes? Also, what happens when militant socialists push for the immigrant’s ‘right’ to vote in other elections? More conservative French voters say that it is a recipe for disaster and resent this subterfuge at ensuring a Socialist majority for years to come. Furthermore, they rightly want to continue reserving the right to vote to French citizens. However, Hollande counters that Sarkozy also mooted the same plan in 2008, which is true.
But the most interesting thing is an email which is showing up on fora. It’s called ‘Who am I?’ (‘Qui suis-je?’) and has a fascinating précis of Hollande’s background. The most contentious bit is the salary: what he says he earns and what he actually earns. Apparently, some in government are allowed to transfer extra earnings to family members. I’ll stay out of that controversy, but here are a few excerpts of the email concerning France’s most ‘normal’ presidential candidate in recent memory (see comment by enfantdefrance entitled ‘au fait’, April 25, 09:12).
Keep in mind the Left’s non-stop criticism of Sarkozy over the past five (and more) years as you read this. Emphases, link and explanations in square brackets are mine:
Who am I? My father was a rich bourgeois (ENT physician and owner of several clinics) … I spent my childhood in Bois-Guillaume, a residential town (in the heights of Rouen) where the richest people in Normandy live. I went to a private school which I criticise constantly — St Jean-Baptiste-de-la-Salle de Rouen. Then I continued my studies in the community of aristocrats and grand families: in Neuilly-sur-Seine, where my parents bought a superb property… my fortune and legacy estimated to be more than €10m … At the end of the ’70s, fresh out of ENA [Ecole Nationale d'Administration] I felt that the Right would lose and that Mitterand was in the ascendant; to secure my future I joined the PS. I’ve never been in charge of a big city. I’ve never been in charge of a region. I’ve never been a minister or a Secretary of State. Despite that, I’ve been in charge of the department of Corrèze, which has become in four years, thanks to me, the furthest in debt in France (… three times more than the national average) and the only one where the number of civil servants has risen by 50% during the same time (from 831 to 1231) … I don’t eat at Fouquet’s [where Sarkozy had his victory dinner]; I go to a more discreet place, even more chic, where I celebrated my recent victory in the PS primary … My canteen is Chez Laurent in the 8th arrondissement. I plan to raise €45bn in taxes because that’s easier than reducing the number of civil servants, although I intend to hire 65,000 more … This will cost France €100bn because a civil servant is paid for life, job security guaranteed!!! … François HOLLANDE. Vote for me, I’ll ruin you in five years. Change is now!
The left-wing press has never ever let Sarkozy — or anyone else — forget that he is from Neuilly-sur-Seine and that he and his entourage celebrated his 2007 election win at Fouquet’s. I ate there in the 1990s and can highly recommend it. I would add that, for many years, the left-leaning France Inter regularly broadcasted shows from there in a private room, not far from where I was sitting.
So, what about Hollande’s Restaurant Laurent, then? Here’s the menu — very fine dining for a Socialist. A starter of lobster salad is €98. Garden peas dressed in olive oil and basil, served with flatbread cost €52. Most of the puddings are €30.
And the Socialists have a go at Sarkozy …
With Flamby’s financial acumen, the French will be sitting at home with Flanby.