Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Waiting for Bayrou

Jacques Chirac has declined to run for a third term as France's President. This isn’t a surprise. He was only elected the second time when the French were spooked by the first round finish of Jean Marie Le Pen.

This means that the race is down to Sarkozy, who has announced that he wants to get tough on immigrants and open an immigration department; Royale, who is seen her favorables decline the more “socialist” she gets. She may be a bit too leftist, even for the French. And François Bayrou, whoc claims he is a "third way " candidate. He is running as a centrist and is offering himself openly as an alternative to the two front-runners. I say watch him closely. Forty-Five percent of French voters are undecided. That means there is a lot of room for things to happen between now and voting day in April. With Chirac clearly out of the running, Bayrou may pick up some of those voters who were waiting on Chirac. Although, polls didn’t put Chirac very high up to begin with.

Sarkozy scares me because is sounding too much like Le Pen. A son of immigrants, I find it disingenuous of him to rail against immigrants so fervently. That said, France has always had an anti-immigrant streak, especially now that they are predominantly Muslim, and Sarkozy is playing to that.

Royale is hitting all the socialist buttons, but I don’t think the French want to go back to the days of Mitterrand where the government does it all. The 35 hour work week isn't liked by everyone, the power of employees unions (who are now less popular than they once were) is wearing thin, and the French are much more capitalistic at heart than they like to admit.

Thus, Bayrou. He is been around forever, ran for President in 2002, and he is quoted as saying, “"I am a democrat. I am a Clintonian. I am a man of the 'third way.”

In a recent IHT article , Bayrou said that if he could vote in the U.S. elections in 2008, he’d hope to vote for Al Gore. I am not sure if that tells us very much about his own political beliefs, but it is an interesting statement to come so bluntly from a presidential candidate.


The Law Talking Guy said...

It is worth remembering that during the 1920s, the fascists advertised themselves as the "third way" - neither communist nor monarchist. I'm always leery of people who want to avoid identification like this. But I know nothing of Bayrou.

USwest said...

I think you have a larger risk of fascism from the likes of Sarkozy. Bayrou has been around long enough that he his political thinking is fairly well known.

That said, he hasn't given specifics of anything yet. So LTG is correct to be cautious. I would be as well if I were a French voter. For now, I think he is trying to cut a wake through the two front runners.

Bell Curve said...

As I have mentioned before, I'm an undecided voter in this election. But my in-laws are not. Most of them are voting Bayrou, as is my wife.

Bayrou is close to being an old-school Gaullist, which means he is more closely aligned with this country's Democrats than this country's Republicans, but he's slightly further right than our Dems, I would say. I'll let you all know if I decide what to do.

Bell Curve said...

Oh, and by the way, some socialists are calling for a 32-hour work week. I don't know Royal's position on that, but it seems absurd to me.

USwest said...

They keep thinking that this will create openings for more jobs. But it actually tightens the labor market, making less flexible in addressing market shifts and trends.

My French family dislikes it because they feel hemmed in with little opportunity to do OT to earn extra money. Also, there are inequalities in its execution. New employees are subject to the limited work week while longer term employees are, etc. So you have a lot of employment on short term contracts. We call that "temp" labor here. This is making things especially hard on younger people.