Interesting piece in the FT this morning about Jack Lang, French PS politician, and possible presidential hopeful in 2007. Before going further I should perhaps point out that the only thing I really know about Lang is that when he was the Culture Minister, back in the 80’s, he opened a small museum dedicated to my preferred contemporary French poet – Ren? Char – in Char’s home town of L’Isle sur la Sorge. This fact may cloud my vision somewhat.
Lang is, one would have thought, the most improbable of Presidential candidates. Nonetheless, as the FT points out, he is definitely out in front as the most electable PS politician in the recent Paris Match (ifop) poll, pinning Sarkozy down to a fairly assailable 52% of the voting intentions in a head to head with him.
But what does Lang stand for? Well apart from his much publicised campaigning (in the company of Tony Blair) ‘for Africa’, it’s hard to say. The FT have a quote which intrigues me:
“I consider that for me, for us, Sarkozy is a good opponent. He is clearly a man of the right. Economically, he is American. He is for wild capitalism. Politically, he is Bonapartist. He is authoritarian. I am exactly the opposite”
Now this intrigues me, since Googling the French press the only version I could find of this was the following:
“S’il ?tait candidat ? l’?lection pr?sidentielle en 2007, le d?put? PS du Pas-de-Calais a expliqu? sur La Cha?ne parlementaire (LCP) qu’il aimerait avoir pour adversaire Nicolas Sarkozy. ?Pourquoi Sarkozy? Parce qu’il est vraiment, clairement, ? droite. Il est clairement lib?ral sur le plan ?conomique et clairement d’une culture autoritaire sur le plan politique. Je suis l’inverse, donc j’aimerais avoir en face de moi l’inverse?, a pr?cis? l’ancien ministre de la Culture et de l’Education.
Where he says, in an interview on the French ‘Channel Parliament’, that he would just love to face Sarkozy in a run-off, since Sarkozy is a confirmed economic liberal, and at the same time a cultural authoritarian (the same combination that I was recently complaining about in Mrs Thatcher, interesting question why Europe’s leading economic liberals have to be authoritarians – and not libertarians. Politicians like Merkel and Blair are, of course, neither. They are pragmatic, which is what the FT suggests that Lang in fact is). The interesting detail about the French version of the quote is that there is no ‘American’ and no ‘Bonapartist’. Strange.
Delving further, the FT suggests that Lang is a declared admirer of ‘our Tony’, and does at least seem to have got some of the message about the unfairness and inefficiency generated by France’s overly regulated labour market:
“He says France needs fundamental political and economic reform and can learn lessons from its neighbours. “It is true we have to reform and change deeply our system. I cannot accept this French sickness of unemployment. It is our duty to find ways to cure it. But we cannot be dogmatic or theoretical. We have to analyse the experience of our neighbours – the British experience, the Danish experience, the Swedish experience – to find a policy that works.””
So which Jack Lang is the real one, the ‘honed’ pragmatic politician and future President of the Republic, or the idealistic but slightly nutty-professor type? Well, according to this report, last weekend he didn’t seem to be able to remember the URL for his own personal website.
Now what was the story about Thales? (See 8f).