Sunday, January 28, 2007

segolene royal's gaffes

Just what exactly is happening to Segolene Royal's campaign over in France? Over in the UK we seem to have got so used to perfectly managed political campaigns that it's rather shocking to see how everything seems to be going so terribly wrong for her. It just seems to be a succession of small errors, but if she's not careful they'll really start adding up.

Two gaffes in a week on independence were followed today by another problem - Peter Beaumont, in today's Observer, explains:

"The racial composition of France's national football team burst back into the country's troubled politics yesterday when the Socialist Party expelled one of its leading members for saying there were 'too many black players' in the side.

Adding fresh woes to the presidential ambitions of party leader Segolene Royal, Georges Freche, president of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, a founding member of the party and a Royal supporter, was thrown out for comments made in November."

Going back to the previous errors, the mistakes on Quebec and Corsica were just embarrasing: first Royal got into trouble with the Canadian PM, Stephen Harper after offering her sympathies to those, like Jean Charest, who would like Quebec to secede from Canada. Harper's rebuke was stinging:

"Experience teaches that it is highly inappropriate for a foreign leader to interfere in the democratic affairs of another country."
On Corsica, another error quickly followed, although in fairness it did come courtesy of a prankster. All the same, she walked into it, choosing not to demur when Gérald Dahan, an imitator known for his phone hoaxes of public figures, suggested that independece for Corsica might be next. Of course, Sarkozy was quick to condemn her, saying her comments were "in bad taste". "For me", he said, "Corsica isn't a joke ... It is the Republic".

These errors are hardly that serious, but Royal is showing a slightly concerning propensity for diplomatic blunders. Far worse was her recent slip in Beijing, where she chose not to condemn Chinese human rights violations but praised the speed of the Chinese justice system. What?

On Iran, Royal was quick to suggest that the country should be prevented from developing a civilian nuclear energy programme, demonstrating that she misunderstood the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which concerns only military uses. Having signed up to the NPT, Iran has the sovereign right to civil nuclear power - something Royal did not seem to realise.

Then was the meeting with a senior Hizbullah politician. Simon Tisdall sums up:

"When Ségolène Royal met a Hizbullah MP in Beirut last month, her relatively limited experience of foreign affairs almost caused an international incident. Ali Ammar told the French Socialists' presidential candidate that the Bush administration suffered from "unlimited dementia". He also attacked what he called modern-day "nazism" in Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post, Ms Royal was unfazed. "I agree with a lot of things you have said, notably your analysis of the United States," she replied."
Of course, not all the gaffes are Royal's fault - one of her key aides had to resign recently after calling her partner, François Hollande, a liability, "the only defect in her campaign". Some advisor. Jasper Gerard, on the other hand, is minded to agree, suggesting problems are rooted not so much in her advisors as her personal support:

"We hear men are bored of 'trophy wives' as they prefer intellectual stimulation. And I'm sure that's right. But is it time ambitious women bagged trophy husbands? Take Segolene Royal. She was looking good to be next President of France. Then her partner, a rival socialist politico, announced his amour would raise taxes. So brilliantly did this obliterate her poll lead, she could now be spending more time with her family than she might wish. 'Men!' she must scream.

A trophy husband would confine himself to saving the orang-utan. Reporters would coo over his designer suits: 'So cute, he must do Botox.' This is what Cherie thought she had, but turned round to find the little man was PM and being sized up for war crimes.

Though no beauty, Denis Thatcher was a model trophy husband. Once, Maggie's lecturing of a president was interrupted by strange noises. They peered behind a sofa and found Denis snoring. He had a dictionary for drink (snifter, sharpener, snorter, snortorino) but never uttered a word, possibly because he was too pissed. Segolene needs a Denis.
But then perhaps in France you don't need a Denis if you've got a Johnny Hallyday, as Sarkozy does - Royal was recently caught saying that she prefers friends who don't live in tax havens; a cutting remark, although Sarkosy got the press for his comeback, unfortunately:

Sarkozy snapped back that Hallyday was only forced to leave by left-wing laws that meant France welcomed only those who have 'no papers, no training... and no desire to succeed'.

Segolene Royal, let's face it, needs a pretty sharp advisor - a Malcolm Tucker - to keep her on the straight and narrow. And fast. Europe - and France - really doesn't need a Sarkozy presidency, but if Royal keeps going like this that's exactly what it'll have to face up to...


Anne-So said...

I love French politics! Watch ut for Jose Bove to anounce his candidature on the 1rst of Feb... and we still don't know whether Chirac will enter the game again!

People are getting increasingly unsecure about Sarkozy and Royal though... Bayrou could win quite a lot of votes from all this nonsense... that leaves me with the big question growing everyday in my little French mind: for who am I going to vote in May???? Any advice strongly appreciated :)

jonathan said...

Bove as the French president would be absolutely wonderful, just to see the look on George Bush's face. Sadly I can think of nothing less likely, but it's a nice idea. I think Bove is still barred entry to the US and classified a 'moral criminal' by them, so...

I would vote for whichever candidate is kindest to animals, which I guess means Nicolas Hulot!

I actually wouldn't be that disappointed if Bayrou won, he would obviously be much better than Sarkozy. I suppose I'd still vote for Royal, although I do have a few reservations. We'll see... looks like it will be a very interesting race.

I see Royal made another gaffe the other day, when she was asked about France's nuclear submaries. Mais non, she (might have) replied, we only have one! Unfortunately, France has seven. Oh dear.

Anne-So said...

Nicolas Hulot is not a candidate anymore :(