Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Tyler Cowen has an interesting speculative piece on the geopolitical consequences of the crisis in the Wilson Quarterly. His comments on Europe may be of particular interest to readers of this blog.
Below is a guest post from Arun Kapil, commenting on my earlier post on Villepin's ambitions:
The chances of Dominique de Villepin making a credible run for the presidency in 2012 are close to nil and for the following reasons.
- Even if Sarkozy stumbles between now and then, i.e., does not significantly better his current poll numbers (or even drops into the 20s), he will still run for re-election. One may be sure of that. And whenever an incumbent, however weakened, is challenged by a candidate within his own camp in a re-election campaign (first round in France, primaries in the US), the incumbent always wins.
- Sarkozy will be the candidate of the UMP and with all its formidable resources (militants, élus, money, etc). This is a certainty. An insurgent candidate – which is what Villepin would be – cannot mount a serious presidential campaign in France without the backing of a political party.
- In the unlikely event Sarkozy were to decide not to run for re-election Villepin would still not be the UMP’s candidate, for the simple reason that he has practically no base in the party. The villepiniste current in the UMP is comprised of a handful of seconds couteaux who carry no weight within the party and are unknown to the public. And if one remembers, Villepin as Prime Minister was deeply unpopular among UMP deputies – and particularly after the CPE fiasco –, who he treated with disdain (and privately as connards). UMP élus for their part simply could not warm up to a PM who had not only never run for elective office – who had never once undertaken the laborious task of building up a local constituency – but made it clear he considered such an exercise to be beneath him. In this respect, DDV has not changed one iota.
- Not only was there no love lost between PM Villepin and the UMP élus but he was/is not particularly popular among the party barons either. If Sarkozy is hors course in 2012, there is no way the party leadership will pass the standard to DDV or sit passively if he tries to seize it. Juppé will in likelihood be the man (and all the more so as he remains popular among UMP militants). Who knows, maybe even Fillon, once he’s replaced as PM (by next March at the latest), will come into his own and pose a credible alternative to Sarko within the party.
- Villepin has never had strong numbers in public opinion polls. Sure, he was greatly appreciated for his February 2003 performance at the UNSC but this never translated into support for his political ambitions. Even during his first several months as PM he never polled outside the single digits in the category of tout à fait favorable (as opposed to merely plutôt favorable), i.e., his support was soft even in the best of times and without a partisan hard core. After the CPE fiasco his numbers went south and stayed there. His name does not even figure in the IPSOS "Palmarès des leaders politiques" nowadays. And it should be noted that he was relatively popular as much – if not more – with voters of the left as of the UMP. But in 2012 those left voters will be looking toward the PS candidate and not a DDV on a white horse.
So forget about Villepin’s political ambitions. He’s a mouche de coche out to settle scores with Sarkozy. Even if he survives Clearstream, politically he’s not going anywhere.