On his excellent blog “French Politics” Art Goldhammer supplies an exceptionally clear analysis of the minor scandal of Christiane Taubira’s lie about when she was told by the police about the wiretaps and bugs targeting Sarkozy. He concludes that the only winner is MLP and the FN. For me, I think that it is only partially true. Even if I agree that the FN is going to take advantage of the own purpose of Taubira, I think that the main winner will be Sarkozy.
This affaire is proof, if more was require, than Hollande and his government are (as we say in America) “not ready for prime time”. Taubira, in particular, seems out of her depth. Certainly a simple statement that it would be inappropriate for Minister of Justice to speak about a current investigation would have been enough.
If Tubira had wanted to say more, something along the lines of “yes, as Minister of Justice, I was told about that the former president was a target of court-ordered electronic surveillance. Naturally, I did not interfere in the investigation in no way. This is the serious affair which transcends all the questions of the politics, on such matters my duty is to France and the politics must not never interfere. I can say no more.” Such a statement would certainly have been enough. But no. Taubira lied, and seems to have caused others in the government to lie in her support. For no good reason that I can see.
Hollande and his gang of clowns are more and more compromised and, indeed, Goldhammer is right that the FN will take full advantage of this. For me, however, I think that Sarkozy is the big winner. Now, there will be a controversy on the legitimacy of the independent judicial inquiry which will distract attention from what seems to be serious crimes and, indeed, crimes against the State itself, involving the corruption of at least one judge. Thus, Sarkozy is maybe better a little bit off politically for Taubira’s having lied.
As regards the effect on the PS: This affair will probably not have no effect on the PS. Candidly, I think that there is very little, maybe nothing, that could lower the Parti Socialiste in the estimation of the French people. They have already touched the bottom.
My evaluation is that MLP is the only conceivable opponent that Hollande could be capable of defeating in the second round of the 2017 election and then only if the FN remains totally unacceptable to France as was the case in 2002. If there is no republican front, Holland will be probably beaten by MLP in the second tour (if by some miracle he arrives there). It would be so catastrophic for France that I do not understand why Hollande and principal ministers do not leave public life and allow the PS to choose a better candidate to represent the left.
Because, MLP is going to be a very strong candidate. The incompetence and the promotion of the austerity by Hollande will surely rebound strongly in her favor. Also, all the confusion and the infighting in the other parties will probably increase the willingness of the voters to take a chance on the FN because it is, inexplicably, the only major political party whose economic policies are not based on liquidationism. Taking France out of the euro is not only a good idea, but also seems to be increasing in popularity every day.
On the other hand, I think that Sarkozy is clearly the most formidable opponent against MLP in the second tour. He could doubtless begin to make amends to legitimize the FN and widen his support in the center and the left by promising his support for a republican front when he announces his candidacy. He has most space to run to the left, in the way that only Nixon was able to go in China. If Sarko can reach the second round against MLP, he will clearly be the lesser evil in a choice between two extremely unpalatable evils.
As an aside, I continue to find it surprising that there isn’t a serious revolt between the roots of the PS and the party’s leaders. How can a supposedly left-wing party take the warning of Mellon “to liquidate workers, to liquidate stocks, to liquidate the farmers, to liquidate the real estate …” as a model for its economic policies in a moment of depression?