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article imageOp-Ed: Desperately Seeking Socialists in France

By Michael Cosgrove     Oct 4, 2010 in Politics
French socialists seem to be doing everything in their power to help their arch-enemy Nicolas Sarkozy to win the next presidential election in 2012. With no program and a refusal to accept that the world has changed, they may well succeed.
Desperately Seeking Susan is a film about a woman who wants to know more about a woman she has never actually met. The same scenario could easily be applied to France, whose people are desperately waiting for the Socialist Party to finally manifest themselves in concrete terms and begin to propose real, tangible and viable alternative policies to those of President Sarkozy.
For now though, it’s all virtual theory and the same old quasi-Marxist doctrines which have ensured that they have not been elected to govern France for over 20 years.
Hotly-contested pension reform plans, world outrage over the Roma expulsions, the economy and more should all mean that the Socialists have a highway to the Elysée in front of them, but it’s just not happening. The Socialists seem to be more interested right now in opposing than proposing, apparently happy to contest the right of a democratically elected government to implement the policies it was elected to implement than to do the job for which they are paid, namely to offer other options.
The extent to which French Socialists have lost all touch with political reality was very eloquently expressed recently by a British analyst, Will Hutton, who said the following in Le Monde when asked if the Socialists were capable of governing France and offering alternatives to the retirement reforms being voted by the government;
“French Socialists have problems when it comes to thinking for themselves and coming up with this kind of reform. They are incapable of asking the right questions, i.e. how do you construct capitalism so as to satisfy the aspirations of French people. French Socialists – surely the most left-leaning in Europe – are too utopian in thought. They have the most authentic values but they seem incapable of transposing them into a credible program for a future government.”
Hutton is not in the Conservative party or any other right-wing party. He is the executive vice-chairman of The Work Foundation, a policy think tank and research organization whose research on the British labor market and related issues is highly respected and quoted by press and politicians of all colors alike.
Initiatives by the Socialists designed to counter government policies are confined to parading at the head of demonstrations and marches by strikers, all of whom are baying for the head of Sarkozy and an end to what they variously consider to be the ‘fascist’, ‘ultra-liberal’, ‘reactionary’ and ‘brutal’ policies that seek to destroy the will of the ‘masses.’ They are calling for the end of capitalism and wresting control from the ‘politico-financial mafia.’
Far from being a democratic political party, they have placed themselves on the fringes of French society as a sort of anti-system organ of protestation and populist extremism.
And people wonder why the right is gaining ground in both France and Europe as a whole at the same time as capitalism is still reeling from its most scandalous excesses since the 1920’s?
Socialism is at a crossroads all over the world, and is losing ground as it has never done before because it refuses to accept that the world has changed and that the era of grand principles is over.
If French socialists don’t come up with an election platform soon – one which places is it within, and not outside of, the realities of the world we live in – Sarkozy will be elected again because voters won’t have any alternative but to vote for him or abstain.
Worse, if the Socialists lose in 2012 the party will most probably be destroyed by the internal battles of blame-throwing which will inevitably follow, and it will cease to exist.
The same is true on a European level. If Socialism doesn’t change, and quickly, it will auto-consign itself to the trashcan of political history.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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