France: All is not (yet) lost!
Fiction on the presidential campaign.
From now on, all the attention is focussing on the 2017 presidential elections. After the disastrous results of the regional elections (whatever the outcome of the second round), there is a broad consensus predicting the unavoidable presence of Marine Le Pen in the runoff for the presidency. Everything depends therefore on who her challenger will be.
Let us consider the strategy of the opposing camps:
For François Hollande, it is of paramount importance that is adversary, in the first round, be Nicolas Sarkozy. To ensure this outcome, the latter must appear as the “winner” of the regional elections: that explains the orders to withdraw the socialist slates for the second round in the regions where the Front National could win. Tough luck for the socialist candidates who are called to be the sacrificial lambs on the altar of the greater good! If on top of that, Claude Bartolone were to win the “Ile de France” region, Hollande will be comforted in his belief that a unified “left” could still beat a divided “right”, all the more that François Bayrou would weaken the latter further by running in the event Sarkozy is the candidate of the “Republicans”.
In a Hollande – Le Pen duel, it is however not absolutely sure that, after such a calamitous first mandate, the “republican right” would automatically transfer all its votes on the incumbent, leaving a (small) chance of victory to Marine Le Pen.
Nicolas Sarkozy, grand strategist before god, whose sense of duty and self-sacrifice are widely acknowledged, has most certainly already decided how he intends to foil the Machiavellian plot of his opponent. Taking a leaf out of Mario Draghi’s magic powers, he will make his own the slogan “I will do all that it takes to save …France” and will announce in due course (when it will be too late for the left to replace Hollande as candidate) that he will not contest the internal “primaries” organised by his party. Thus he destroys the sordid machinations of the left and ensures the victory of his camp against Le Pen. He emerges from the fray with a greatly enhanced reputation and the stature of a true Statesman on which he intends to capitalise very rapidly.
Indeed in this “idealistic” political world where nothing comes for free, it shall not have escaped Sarkozy’s attention that apart from purely domestic considerations, no President will be able to succeed in turning France around without significant reforms of the European Union, currently teetering on the edge of implosion. Having discreetly informed Chancellor Merkel of his intentions, he will suggest that she leads a campaign to appoint him as the successor to Donald Tusk whose lacklustre 2 ½ year mandate ends in the summer of 2017 (happy coincidence). Together they engineer a profound revision of the treaties that will be sponsored by a reinvigorated “Franco-German couple”.
Lost in the mass of reforms which will focus on common defence and foreign affairs policies, the extension of the Euro to all Member States (after Brexit) and the strengthening of EMU, to the establishment of a common immigration policy and the transfer of external border security to the Union, a short article will be slipped in calling for the direct election of an EU President who would also assume the presidency of the Commission (which would become a true European government).
A grateful European (and French) population would elect triumphantly Nicolas Sarkozy to this most powerful position, crowning his political career and ensuring his place in the history books.
This is of course pure fiction, but it is still possible to dream when all else seems lost!
Brussels, 9th december2015
Paul N. Goldschmidt
Director, European Commission (ret.); Member of the Steering Committee of the Thomas More Institute.
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