Gotta love French presidential politics.
Basically, you’ve got necon lite challenging uber-necon, the former running on the hilariously misnamed Socialist ticket.
Both are playing on xenophobia, with incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy laying on the ham-handed version, while challenger François Hollande dishes out a more genteel version.
The reason for that play-to-the-basest strategy is to capture the 18 percent of the runoff voters who opted for the much more straightforward uber-Far-Right Marine Le Pen of the National Front.
Since at 28.6 percent Hollander was just 1.5 percentage points ahead of Sarko, Le Pen’s votes are much to be sought.
But it’s Sarko who’s really catching the heat.
From John Lichfield of The Independent:
Fighting for his political life, President Nicolas Sarkozy has plunged further to the right, provoking accusations that he is copying the National Front (NF) and even the ultra-conservative wartime regime in Vichy.
The President’s all-or-nothing strategy to win the second round of the election has stirred dissension within his own camp, including veiled criticism by his Prime Minister, François Fillon.
However, a group of advisers close to Mr Sarkozy are convinced the thumping vote for the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen last Sunday was a vindication of the President’s Eurosceptic, anti-immigrant and Islam-baiting message to voters in the first round.
Le Pen mocks Sarkoleon
And will he be Blownaparte? [Sorry.]
From Hürriyet Daily News:
France’s National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, has scorned incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy’s attempt to veer further to the right to attract her voters in the second round of the country’s tight presidential race.
Until a few days ago, Sarkozy and his “clique” had attacked the National Front (FN) on all fronts, the 43-year-old Le Pen told RTL radio on April 26.
“We were xenophobes, anti-Semites, racists,” said Le Pen, whose party failed to make the run-off but did win 18 percent of the vote in the first round on April 22. “And all of a sudden, there is no more of that [condemnation].”
The taunt came as Sarkozy and his front-running Socialist rival, François Hollande, prepared to take their duel to the airwaves to sell their competing plans for France if they are elected in the final round on May 6.
‘The Stalinists are out to get me!’
When all else fails, why not use that old reliable American political stratagem, Red-baiting?
Heck, if Republicans are calling Obama a socialist, what do you call an opponent who’s already pretending to be a socialist?
Tony Cross of Radio France Internationale:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday complained that he was the victim of a “Stalinist trial” amid criticism of an alleged rightward turn in his campaign to be reelected. His Socialist opponent, François Hollande, on Saturday complained that an election campaign has never stooped so low.
His speeches have concentrated on race, Islam and law and order, themes dear to her Front National (FN).
On Thursday the Sarkozy camp asserted that Hollande has received declarations of support from 700 mosques, as well as controversial Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan, and that the Socialist wanted to allow all immigrants without papers the right to stay in France.
The assertions all turned out to be untrue, prompting Hollande to tell Saturday’s Le Parisien, “Thank God Ben Laden is dead! Perhaps he would have issued a call to vote for me too!”
As well as the Socialists, former prime minister and long-time Sarkozy opponent Dominique de Villepin declared that he was “frightened” by a campaign that was “giving hostages to extremism” and two parliamentarians from Sarkozy’s UMP criticised the rapprochement with the FN.
“Since Monday things have gone crazy,” Sarkozy told an election rally in Dijon on Friday. “They say I’ve toughened and ‘extremised’ my speeches. They’re putting words in my mouth. It’s a Stalinist trial just like in the good old days.”
After dodging questions on whether there are too many immigrants in France earlier in the week, Hollande on Friday declared that limits on economic immigration “necessary, indispensable”, while opposing restrictions on the number of foreign students coming to France.
The ultimate irony, of course, is that it matters very little which one wins. Both are in general agreement on the big issues of European Realpolitik, though Hollande professes to be more compassionate toward the victims of neoliberalism.
It’s like that old joke about the gay Mafia: They still whack you after you get the kiss of death, but with the Gay Mafia, at least you get a dinner and a dance first.