Posts Tagged ‘François Hollande presidential election 2012’

met de hakken over de sloot

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niet verder springen dan je stok lang is


In Dutch we have the expression ‘Met de hakken over de sloot’ (literal: with your heels over the ditch) meaning to jump over a ditch and by the narrowest of margins land on the other side.

There is another saying in Dutch about jumping over ditches that criss cross its flat and muddy countryside: ‘niet verder springen dan je stok lang is’ (jump no further than the length of your stick). With an electorate of 51,9  % (or a tiny bit less or more in the final totals) and a turnout of almost 80% (as far as I can find out now) it has not been a ‘landslide victory’ for Hollande. If one thing is sure, the length of his stick will be limited.

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article in revision check out tomorrow….

Hollande crossed the Channel to pay his respect to those in power in the City of London on monday February 13. The Guardian had a reportage  describing the discourse of the candidate for the new presidency of France under the heading “François Hollande seeks to reassure UK and City of London” he held a speech in which he denied the colour of his own tie:

Hollande brushed aside suggestions that he was a leftwing ideologue and dismissed comparisons with the initial fear greeting François Mitterrand’s election in 1981. “The 1980s was a different era. People said there would be Soviet tanks on the Place de La Concorde. That era is over, it’s history. It’s normal there were fears then. There had been 23 years of the right in power, the cold war was on and Mitterrand nominated Communist ministers to government. Today there are no Communists in France. Or not many … the left was in government for 15 years in which we liberalised the economy and opened up the markets to finance and privatisations. There is no big fear.”

“… no Communists in France. Or not many…”

Hollande must have thought back to another recent speech where he had the honour of being “enfariné” by a young lady activist: “c’est la risque du métier” (a professional risk), he said calmly a few minutes later.

If his attempt to gain respectability in the eyes of the international financial world will gain him more support than what he certainly will loose by this insult, remains uncertain. A whole social layer in French society exists that may not be, or not any more be a member of the Communist Party of France (PCF), but still feels related to their anti-capitalist stance, certainly in these times of prolonged economic crisis. The trade union movement CGT, once strongly related to the PCF, still is a major social force in France and many of its members may feel insulted by his “No Communists in France” line.

What about ‘Le Front de Gauche’ lead by  Jean-Luc Mélanchon, scoring between 6% and 9% in the opinion polls for the French presidential elections since January 2012 (Hollande’s scores are between 28 and 34%). Are they NO Communists? Do they NOT exist?

France has (in practice) two rounds of votes for the presidential elections, as rarely a majority will be reached in the first round.

Hollande seems to victimise himself and his Socialist Party, by using Cold War tactics and rhetoric of  social democrat parties, that used to distance themselves as much as possible and as far as possible from anything related to ‘party communists’. After the fall of the Soviet Union most European communist parties that survived have ‘lost their bolshevist teeth in Moscow’ and tend to fare a national and more independent democratic course.  If these left over parties of the left  want to do something else than just being in the opposition, they need to become allies of the social democrats.

The “not-many” constitute an electoral force that Hollande should not have insulted, a force which he can not allow himself to neglect, will he ever want to end the reign of Sarkozy, prevent Mary Le Pen from getting closer to power or being driven in the arms of  François Bayrou.

The Netherlands is a good example what can happen when social democrats keep distancing themselves from parties at their left hand side. It brought a minority government tolerated by right of the centre PVV/Wilders to power. It took the totally frustrated social democrats one year to have their first attempted left wing front meeting (pardon me for the vocabulary of bygone days tj.). When one wants to believe the regular opinion polls on support for political parties in the Netherlands, the dismissed partner of the social democrat party (PvdA), the former maoist SP, will have many more votes than the PvdA itself, when there would be elections today.

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17th CENTURY SPIN FOR FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE: Oráculo Manual of the art of prudence by Balthasar Gracián (1601-1658). Almost daily (on French news) we see the foolish triumphalist behaviour of one of the very few alternatives to the reign of Sarkozy, and his UMP, François Hollande of the SP. Mass rallies and visits to pre-arranged supportive crowds as if he  has already acquired the presidential seat. Election to the royal position of French president is – sadly – first of all a matter of ‘rhetorics’ and not of a party program. Person comes before content. The 21st century SPINS of Hollande are in my view hopeless and lead him to electoral disaster. I recommend a more classic SPIN, the study of the classic ‘art of prudence’ and the best master remains Balthasar Gracian a 17th century priest at the Spanish court, who published a pocket book (hand oracle) from which I will quote in the coming election time. This is the first maxime, number xix (19):

Arouse no Exaggerated Expectations on entering. It is the usual ill-luck of all celebrities not to fulfil afterwards the expectations beforehand formed of them. The real can never equal the imagined, for it is easy to form ideals but very difficult to realise them. (1)

(1)  English translation under the (alternative) title “The Art of Worldly Wisdom” done by Joseph Jacobs, [1892] in an on-line edition at Sacred Texts web site.

The Spanish original text “Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia” is on-line also in HTML format at the Biblioteca Virtual

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