(Because it is!) I should probably do more French politics blogging, I think. A couple of themes lately:
Cahuzac x Sarkozy.
There’s been a major scandal around the budget minister Jérome Cahuzac, spearhead of a campaign against tax-evasion, who turned out to have hidden his own multi-million euro fortune in Switzerland and had to resign. As a result, the president announced a campaign to “moralise politics” and legislation to force politicians to declare their financial interests. Ministers were ordered to go first and set an example.
Cahuzac is a weird character, a cardiologist who turned expert in cosmetic hair transplants to make money, and whose wealth was managed by a veteran of the extreme-right student movement, a long-standing member of Cahuzac’s circle of friends, a group of men with a surprising tilt to the far Right. Marine Le Pen’s spokesman was strangely calm about the whole affair, describing it as “anodyne”. This may suggest that the FN’s tax affairs are not entirely in order. Allegedly, some of his patients paid in cash so he could ship the money straight to Reyl & Cie of Geneva.
This even overshadowed the news that the former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is under police investigation over his campaign finances. The story goes back to the great Bettencourt affair; at the time, certain daring voices (like this blog) suggested that Liliane Bettencourt’s envelopes of cash had reached the president himself. It’s probably most interesting that the issue has been officially recognised – it’s no longer something for intrepid journalists and radical bloggers. It’s also interesting, though, that the investigators are treating the case as one in which Sarkozy manipulated the old lady into handing over her money, rather than, say, the richest person in France and owner of one of its biggest companies pouring untraceable cash into the political system. Clearly, there is a limit to how far anyone is willing to recognise the issue.
That said, Cahuzac’s bank is going to be the object of more inquiries, and it apparently served many other politicians, so you should certainly look out for more revelations.
Salon de thé
Is that a tea party in French? Here’s an interesting blog post on the French conservatives. You may recall that they couldn’t elect a leader after losing the elections, and fell to fighting among themselves. They eventually agreed to try again in a year’s time, which is coming up fast. Lately, would-be leader Jean-Francois Copé, the man once voted the most annoying politician in France, has been suggesting that perhaps they could forget about the election and it’s all better now. Unsurprisingly, would-be leader 2, Francois Fillon, isn’t having that.
And then the government began passing the gay marriage legislation, and the Right put aside the row in order to mobilise against it. Or, as the link argues, they mobilised against it in order to put off the row until later, in a more-or-less conscious imitation of US Republican tactics. They didn’t have the votes to stop it, and it’s popular, but they could agree on putting down 700 amendments to the text, staging demonstrations, and generally going to the mattresses, and so that’s what they did.
Everyone was surprised about the capacity for mobilisation of the rightist and Catholic network, and the whole thing took on its own momentum, ending up with members of parliament coming to blows and thugs attacking gay bars. Now, the law is on the statute book, and although another demo is planned for the 26th of May, you wonder what the point is…other than putting off the evil day when they have to pick a leader.
Also, if you think Cahuzac is a slightly unlikely figure what with the hair transplants and the fascist mates and the socialism, check out the anti-gay marriage campaign’s leader.
Bernard G.‘s comment here is recommended.