Posts Tagged ‘French Politics’
New Low for Académie française.
I suppose any institution claiming to represent the heights of French culture that includes former French President and mediocrity Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (still, amazingly, alive, though it’s often hard to tell) lacks, shall we say, all credibility.
But the election of Alain Finkielkraut to the “immortals” has introduced a new low.
Finkielkraut occupys the same place in French philosophy and culture, as, say, Peter Hitchins.
He began with some, middlebrow, writings in the tradition of Emmanuel Levinas. He celebrated Jewish culture and sometimes offered penetrating insights into post-Shoah Jewish identity. Some may admire his stand on the break up of Yugoslavia, where he was beside himself against Serbia. Fewer, perhaps, would have admired his close friendship with Croat leader, and Holocaust denier, Franjo Tuđman.
In recent years Finkielkraut has been distinguished by a relentless hatred of anything he believes threatens French identity.
If anybody wants to distinguish left-republican secularism from what Finkielkraut’s critics call his « républicano-communautariste » it is easy to do.
He explicitly attacks multiculturalism from the right, offering only a tale of woe and decline faced with immigration and métissage (Mixing, cultural and ethnic). As one can imagine he has had the courage of those going with the grain of conservative prejudice to oppose “political correctness” – a term as wide as it is vacuous.
By contrast Jean-Luc Mélenchon has explicitly defended” ” métissage” as the basis for a new class unifying republican socialist left.
Over the last year Finkielkraut has become even more obsessed – were it possible – with “l’identité française”.
He complains that France is an “auberge espagnole” (a pejorative term, in this context, for a mixture of people living together) in which the ethnically true French dare not speak out. (L’Identité malheureuse, d’Alain Finkielkraut. 2013)
Despite the occasional exalted language Finkielkraut resembles a Peter Hitchins, or a French version of Nigel Farage.
It is with no surprise that we learn that his election to the Académie française met opposition. The columnist scraped in with 16 votes out of the 28 members of the august body.
France has a new Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, from the right-wing of the Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste).
Valls, who received a mere 5% in the party’s -primary’ to select a Presidential candidate , is known as a “social liberal”, with an authoritarian streak. Although he has progressive secularist views, and is a ferocious opponent of racists like Dieudonné, he has an illiberal streak. Valls is also accused of anti-Rom views amongst many other doubtful opinions.
He is one of the very few French politicians to refer to Tony Blair as an inspiration.
Valls is sometimes known as a “Sarkozy of the Left”.
Notable in his Cabinet is the President’s former partner, Ségolène Royal, nominated as Minister of Ecology. On the left of the Socialists, Benoît Hamon, remains but is now Education Minister.
The French Greens (EELV) have broken their coalition with the Parti Socailiste and do not participate in the new government.
This is their declaration (adapted),
The ecologists take note of the will of the President of the Republic to learn from the the municipal elections. In particular, they note that the President of the Republic has announced an end to dependence of our country on oil and nuclear power .
However, we would have hoped for a real shift in direction. The existing budget guidelines remain unchallenged and it does not seem probable that likely that a large-scale transition to new forms of energy use corresponding to our wishes, is taking place.
The ecologists will support the government whenever it engages on the path of progress and ecology, but will oppose any changes which do not meet green criteria,.
Despite the proposals made by Manuel Valls, the conditions within the government do not exist for Europe Ecologie Les Verts participation. We will, nevertheless, be vigilant partners of the government, to make sure that such a (energy) transition occurs.
Emmanuelle Cosse, National Secretary of the Executive Board and EELV
This move has proved unpopular with their own supporters, 93% of EELV backers do not agree with the decision. (93%). Daniel Cohn-Bendit has denounced their change in direction.
Reports indicate that the party is in the middle of a massive row about this step.
To outsiders it would seem that making the “transition” to a Green energy policy the principal basis for a break with the government is odd.
It is certainly not a major concern of the European left.
The reference to the budget is also far from clear.
Are they against austerity or not?
We would suggest that the stormy relations between Valls and the Greens have a more obvious origin.
The Green leader Cécile Duflot has clashed with the new Prime Minister when she was Housing Minister, and cordially detests him. They clashed last year over her stand in favour of decriminalising cannabis.
The French media has not been slow to accuse Duflot of making a “personal” choice for the rest of her party, though how far her influence extends to the EELV as a whole remains in doubt.
Does this have wider implications?
Are European Greens finally breaking with the politics of austerity pursued by centre-left leaders like France’s President François Hollande?
This is far from certain.
France’s Greens are proud of winning the town of Grenoble, with the backing of the Parti de Gauche of Jean-Luc Mélenchon against the Socialists who were allied with…..the Parti Communiste Français…
More information on that from the Alternatifs Grenoble, enfin « une ville pour tous ! »