The week has been hot for the ruling UMP party, and this week-end is going to be just as hot with the first round of voting in over 2 000 local constituencies. This will be at real test for the two major parties in French politics (conservative UMP and socialist PS) against each other but especially against the greens of Europe-Ecologie, the far-right Front National and the far-left Front de Gauche. The FN has been surging in the poll surveys lately, see this article for an overview about that. Multi-sided competition will occur in 70-80% of constituencies, in others it will be face to face UMP vs PS for lack of other representatives, but this should still give us a good idea of the rapport de force between the various sides, this being all the more interesting as it is the last election before the big one in 2012 for the French presidency.
France is a major player in the nuclear energy field and, with 59 active reactors, derives a very large part of its energy from it. The Fukushima crisis has relaunched the debate between those who want to opt out (the Greens and the non-communist far left, and a faction within the PS) and those mostly in favour (the right and center, most of the PS and the Communists). As usual the French establishment’s response has been”we’re just too good for this to happen to us here”, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to review her own previous decision of extending the planned life of the German nuclear park is seen as a treacherous blow by the French regime. This country has been on the nuclear fast track ever since de Gaulle and bar a major revolution within the establishment is not going to give up any time soon. This is a real debate which needs to go beyond ideological chanting. Replacing nuclear power with oil, gas or coal-fired power stations is certainly no solution, and renewable energy from wind and sun is nowhere near sufficient and stable enough to provide the needed power base. Other options exist, first in line being deep geothermal energy but let’s not get into that here.
Another hot item this week was the finally successful attemps by Sarkozy to get a no-fly UN resolution against Libya. I’m sure Sarkozy and his gang don’t give a damn about the anti-Gaddafi insurgents and by nature would rather cozy up with the dictators than with revolutionnaires (see this article for my personnal angle) but, and it’s a major “but”: Sarkozy hates Gaddafi since he invited him on a red carpet to Paris back in 2007: Gaddafi behaved just like the super-rich, super arrogant dictator that he is, poured scorn and ridicule all over the French president, and was probably the cause of a number of presidential nightmares. I must say I almost fell sorry for the little guy. There may also be another “but”: Gaddafi says he financed the 2007 Sarkozy election campaign… now that would be bad publicity indeed, and would also explain why Sarkozy is so keen on some Gaddafi-bashing: to shut him up – definitely. I don’t currently take that accusation too seriously as Gaddafi is not exactly a trustworthy person, but it’s plausible given that we pretty well know that Sarkozy was already involved in dirty financing for the Balladur presidential campaign in 1995 (the explosive Karachi affair where some of the money paid by Pakistan for French arms was supposed to get back to Balladur and some to Pakistani officials as sales commissions. Chirac subsequently won the election and broke the Pakistani deal, which in turn led to the assassination of a number of French Navy employees in Pakistan). Yet another reason for the Sarkozy push could simply be that he needs whatever he can find to fend off the oppostion in this week-ends’ local elections, and looking tough on the bad guy Gaddafi could win his side some votes.
The more important question of course is whether this UN resolution is any good. Given the Afghanistan and Irak fiascos it’s no wonder there are hesitations, and the Chinese and Russians will never support resolutions which could be turned against their own actions at home. What air supremacy really means in civil wars is indescriminate killing because it’s impossible to tell who belongs to which side, and massive destruction leading to massive misery. Result: everybody ends up siding against the “liberators”. This happened in Vietnam, in Afghanistan, in Irak and there is absolutely no reason it won’t happen in Libya.
I read on Tuesday in Jean Quatremer’s blog that Brice Hortefeux, deposed Interior Minister in the last cabinet reshuffling because he was becoming a liability with his racist remarks, has managed to get his arse on the European gravy train. The procedure that allowed him to get there seems essentially legal but ethically disgusting – as anything this guy does anyway. Sarkozy said he would name him “political counsel to the Elysée”, but the mirobolant earnings of EuroMPs associated with no obligation to do anything – not even to be there – should see Hortefeux comfortably through this tough patch. Hell, nobody to arrest, humiliate and expel, no more gunslinging for the Prez, the guy is going to go depressive! I just hope Nigel Farage takes some potshots at this cretin the way he does for Ashton, Baroso or Van Rompuy. All these lazy, arrogant ex-politicians living the good life in Brussels (when they are there) are our expense deserve to be ridiculed and thrown out. In fact we need a “recall” procedure as in the US, where it is possible to “un-elect” representatives who don’t do their job. See the current story unfolding in Wisconsin, about which the French media are remaining surprisingly silent. I would so much love to see Hortefeux thrown out of Brussels and driven back to the French border strapped between two policemen, after a good beating and a couple of weeks locked up in a pigsty. Which is standard procedure here for the unwanted.