Archive for UMP

Juan Cole: Sarkozy’s Loss in Part Due to His Islamophobia

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on May 10, 2012 by loonwatch

France’s Muslims may not be flexing their electoral muscle as much as they can be, but according to a recent poll 93% voted for Hollande, which would be a considerable boost for the Socialist.

Juan Cole dissects Sarkozy’s loss and how part of it was due to Islamophobia:

Sarkozy’s Loss in Part due to his Islamophobia

by Juan Cole (Informed Comment)

The bad economy in France and outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy’s refusal to do a stimulus program, preferring instead “austerity,” were the primary reasons he lost the election to Socialist Francois Hollande. That and Sarkozy really is an annoying, strutting peacock who wore out his political welcome among voters.

But some of the margin of his defeat came from his pandering to the discourse of the French anti-immigrant far right, which he did especially vocally after he was forced into a run-off against Hollande. Sarkozy said there are too many “foreigners” (he meant immigrants) in France, that police should have greater leeway to shoot fleeing suspects, that the far right are upstanding citizens. He even talked about “people who look Muslim.”

Many observers in France argue that Sarkozy stole so many lines from the soft-fascist National Front of Marine LePen that he mainstreamed it, and made it impossible for the Gaullists of the Union for a Popular Movement (Sarkozy’s party, French acronym UMP) to argue that LePen and her followers should be kept out of national government because they were too extreme. (The irony is that Sarkozy himself is the son of a Hungarian father and his mother was mixed French Catholic and Greek Jewish; and he postured as Ur-French!)

Sarkozy tried to depict the French Left as so woolly-headed and multi-cultural that they were coddling and even fostering the rise of a threatening French Muslim fundamentalism that menaced secular, republican values. Theinfamous daily hour set aside by the mayor at a swimming pool in Lillefor a few years for Muslim women to swim without men present was presented as emblematic of this threat. But it was all polemics. Some Gaullist mayors did the same thing, and for longer.

And, Sarkozy showed much less dedication to Third-Republic-style militant secularism than most Socialists (only 10 percent of the French go to mass regularly and almost all vote for Sarkozy’s UMP, so the Catholic religious right is his constituency). But, he did support the Swiss ban on minarets and he banned public Muslim prayer in France, and the wearing of the burqa’ full veil (popular mainly in the Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and worn by like 4 women in France aside from wealthy wives of emirs in France on shopping sprees).

Sarkozy’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and punitive laws in the end drove centristFrancois Bayrou to repudiate him. Bayrou, leader of the Democratic Movement party, had run for president on a platform of reducing the national debt and reining in public spending, and was more center-right than center. He got about 9% of the votes in the first round of the presidential election.

Late last week, Bayrou made the astonishing announcement that Sarkozy’s obsession with “frontiers” just seemed to him a betrayal of French values, and that he was throwing his support to Hollande. Sarkozy’s political platform, he thundered, “is violent” and is “in contradiction with our values, but also those of Gaullism [the mainstream French right] as well as contradicting the values of the republican and social Right.” I am not and never will be, he said, a man of the left. He said he was sure he would be upbraiding Hollande for his spendthrift ways. But on the issue of republican values, he had to back Hollande.

Although he left them free to vote for whomever they liked, Bayrou threw about a third of his centrists’ vote to Hollande, or roughly 3% of those who went to the polls in the first round. Hollande won this round by 4%.

Only about a third of France’s roughly 4.5 million persons of Muslim descent (mainly North and West Africans) identify as Muslims. Only about 10 percent of Muslims are said to vote. So French Muslims are not flexing their electoral muscles yet in a meaningful way. Probably many more secular French voted against Sarkozy because of his odious language about immigrants than did Muslim-heritage French, in absolute numbers.

Sarkozy, by embracing the noxious language of hatred of immigrants and fear-mongering about secular Socialists spreading Muslim theocracy in the villages of France, failed to convince the hard right to vote for him but managed to alienate the center. Even MPs in his own party began speaking out against his having gone too far.

Of course, the kind of violent, anti-immigrant, and Muslim-hating language Sarkozy used is par for the course in the GOP in the US today. But aside from some Libertarians such as Ron Paul, where are the mainstream centrist Republicans who will openly denounce it? Who among Republicans recognizes that the sorts of things Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney say about a monolithic Muslim Caliphate menace are violent and contradictory to the values of the American Republic. Not to mention the things many of them say about Latino immigrants. Where is our Francois Bayrou?

Unease Grows in Sarkozy Party over Rightward Lurch

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on April 29, 2012 by loonwatch

Sarkozy’s right-ward lurch is supposedly rankling some feathers in his own party (via. Islamophobia-Watch):

Unease grows in Sarkozy party over rightward lurch

Unease is growing in French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party a week before a presidential election over his lurch to the right in pursuit of supporters of anti-immigration candidate Marine Le Pen.

Some mainstream conservatives have voiced public dismay at his embrace of the campaign themes, language and even some proposals of Le Pen’s National Front. In private conversations, doubts are widespread about the morality and effectiveness of the strategy.

In the last week, Sarkozy has repeatedly declared that there are too many foreigners in France and vowed to reduce legal immigration. Echoing a Le Pen proposal, he has called for police to be given greater license to shoot fleeing crime suspects. He has accused his Socialist rival Francois Hollande of being backed by Islamists and said Le Pen’s voters are respectable and her party compatible with the French Republic.

“Even though I will vote for Nicolas Sarkozy on the second round, it’s clearly my duty to ring the alarm bell about this strategy,” Etienne Pinte, a UMP lawmaker, told Reuters.

He said former prime ministers Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Alain Juppe, Sarkozy’s foreign minister, had made clear in internal meetings their reticence about the rightward drift. ”All through the campaign, we felt there were misgivings among a number of parliamentary colleagues and the two former prime ministers about the exploitation of these extreme-right themes,” Pinte said.

Sarkozy hardened his discourse as soon as the results of last Sunday’s first round showed Le Pen, with nearly 18 percent, had won twice as many votes as centrist Francois Bayrou. The president needs to draw support from both sides to beat Hollande, the clear frontrunner in opinion polls, in the May 6 second-round runoff.

Raffarin hinted at his distaste in an interview with the newspaperLe Monde last week, saying: “If I were to express reservations today, it would weaken my own side … but I remain attached to the humanitarian values of our program.” Asked whether the strategy drawn up by Sarkozy’s political guru Patrick Buisson, a former extreme-right newspaper editor, had not strengthened the far right, Raffarin said the time for analysis would come after May 6. “We are in a battle now, and in a battle, the honorable thing is to be loyal,” he said.

Another former Gaullist prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, deplored what he called “crossing one republican red line after another (in a) shameless seduction of extremist votes”. Without mentioning Sarkozy by name, Villepin warned the mainstream right in an article in Le Monde against betraying its own values.

“One would think there were only National Front voters in France,” he wrote. “As if there were not more important issues than halal meat, legal immigration and (single-sex or mixed) bathing hours in public swimming pools.” Sarkozy has played up each of those issues in his quest to win over Le Pen voters.

Reuters, 29 April 2012