Dead Men Left

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bove for President?

Via the Militant Pine Marten, the surprising news that Jose Bove, the altermondialiste activist, is considering standing for the French Presidency.

Le Monde says (dodgy translation approaching):

Il apparaît toujours, dans les sondages, comme le plus populaire des ténors de gauche. Avec 56 % de bonnes opinons, selon le tableau de bord IFOP pour Paris Match de la mi-juin, et même 69 % parmi l'électorat de gauche, l'ex-leader paysan atteint une cote que les autres leaders du non -­ Marie-George Buffet (PCF), Olivier Besancenot (LCR) ou les socialistes Henri Emmanuelli ou Jean-Luc Mélenchon ­- n'osent espérer. "Il y a une place pour un populiste de gauche dont le coeur idéologique est celui d'Attac", reconnaît Jean Viard, directeur de recherche au CNRS (Cevipof, Centre d'études de la vie politique française).

He always appears, in surveys, as the most popular spokesman of the left. With 56% holding a favourable opinion, according to the pollsters IFOP for Paris Match in mid-June, and even 69% amongst left-wing voters, the former farmers' leader has attained a breadth of support that the other leaders of the "no" [in the Euro referendum] - Marie-George Buffet (PCF), Olivier Besancenot (LCR) and the socialists Henri Emmanuelli or Jean-Luc Melenchon - do not even dream of. "There is a place for a populist left whose ideological heart is that of Attac [the major altermondialiste/anti-capitalist organisation]," recognises Jean Viard, director of research at CNRS (Centre for the study of French politics).

Bove says he'll only consider standing if the PCF, LCR and the Greens back him. He does not, in other words, wish to grandstand: he wants to win. Where the question becomes particularly interesting is over the Socialist Party's candidate choice. If it is a "social-liberal", a French Blairite, there would seem to be no hesitation. If it is someone more like Laurent Fabius, Mitterand's monetarist prime minister turned hard-left leader of the no vote, Bove (according to sources close to him) would not wish to split the left-wing vote.

It's speculation, and it's all a long way off into the future - but it's a revealing indication of how deep the crisis of the French political establishment is becoming.