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French Elections: The Centrist Wave
Many deep streams are feeding the idea of a moderate coalition
Demian West (demianwest)     Print Article 
Published 2007-03-02 08:28 (KST)   
In the French presidential election, Jose Bove is the leader of the coalition of left-of-left parties, which includes a coalition of dissidents of the socialist party, intellectuals, left-wing activists, the anti-globalization movement and other small parties. He is the charismatic founder of the "Confederation Paysanne," a union of militant farmers, and the star of the anti-globalization movement. As such, Bove announced his candidacy on French television, pledging for his hard-line, anti-capitalist policy.

This anti-globalization coalition is a real force. In a referendum in 2005, it sharply defeated the proposals of the European Constitution, despite the united bipartisan front of the great parties of the right and the left. But Bove has so far failed to gather the signatures he needs to be placed on the ballot. What's more, he may be facing a prison term for destroying genetically modified crops.

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On the socialist front, even though the large participatory debates-by-Internet has brought in tens of thousands of new members -- mostly young bobos and yuppies without great fluency in political ideas -- socialist candidate Segolene Royal's bid for the presidency is a battle on several fronts: against the male competitors from her own camp and campaign staff, and against the whole Trotskyist front of the widespread left-of-left wing.

Further, center party (Union for French Democracy) leader Francois Bayrou has welcomed the socialist's issues and proposals because Royal borrowed her program from her model Tony Blair and his "Third Way," which is centrist oriented. Bayrou even went so far as to say that he could lead with a socialist prime minister, a very new political gesture in France. In fact, Royal had to change her positions to secure her nomination for the socialist candidacy. She campaigned against gay marriage, and lost their votes, despite the fact that 70 percent of the French people support same-sex marriage. Because of this, she has rallied to this proposal. Moreover, when she was family minister in Jospin's government, she called "pro-condom" advertisings "pornographic" and said she would back some censorship of Catholic religious policy.

Fifty days before the April-May ballot and we are still far from seeing uncritical coverage of Royal in the media -- the same media that helped her lockup leadership of the socialist party over former culture minister Jack Lang, a very popular figure, and the witty former prime minister Laurent Fabius. Both Lang and Fabius are dandies and veterans of the Socialist Party. Royal won easily because they were hampered by revelations of dirty tricks and affairs, just as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the leader of the party's right wing, has been mired in financial scandals.

As for the staff of the socialist campaign, some have said that Socialist Party boss Francois Hollande could be branded by accusations of inflating membership rolls and vote fraud, and of influencing local bosses of the Socialist Party. Furthermore, Hollande, Royal's life partner, controls firmly but excessively the whole party apparatus.

A month ago, Royal had to dismiss her campaign spokesman, Arnaud Montebourg, because when asked on television what he thought was Royal's sharpest defect, he replied, "her partner" -- meaning Hollande. All the leaders of her campaign staff have been making similar "gaffes" as if playing a game of lose-the-battle.

For many voters on the left, the Socialist Party has become a sort of centrist force. The only question is whether to hold on to reach the presidency, or join the centrist coalition backing Bayrou. Moreover, whereas right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy went to London to receive the enthusiastic embrace of Tony Blair, the most famous centrist in Europe, Royal has never met her political model.

Obviously, many deep streams are feeding this idea of a centrist coalition. One can feel easily this swelling wave leading Bayrou to the presidency.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Demian West

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