jeudi, mai 18, 2006

Notre politique nationale perçue par nos voisins européen, extrait de the economist, de ce jour :

French politics
Beyond saving?
May 18th 2006 PARIS From The Economist print edition
The end approaches, for an undistinguished government and president alike
"A DECADE or so in power saps the authority of any political leader. Just ask Britain's Tony Blair. But the troubles afflicting France's president, Jacques Chirac, in the twilight of his 11-year-old presidency, are chronic. His government this week survived a vote of no confidence, but emerged no stronger. Most debilitating of all, its credibility is being undermined mainly by an internal war of attrition.
With an absolute majority in parliament, the ruling centre-right UMP party comfortably saw off the censure motion, proposed by the Socialist Party. Ahead of the vote, Dominique de Villepin, the prime minister, spoke defiantly of his plans to create a “fairer, more united and more confident” society. But his fighting talk scarcely registered. More than half the UMP's deputies did not vote. François Bayrou, leader of the centrist UDF party, which has a minister in the government, voted against it for the first time since the party was created in 1978 by then President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. “Our country,” declared the Socialist Party, “is going through one of the most serious political crises of the fifth republic.”


The immediate cause is the “Clearstream affair”, named after a Luxembourg clearing house. A baffling web of judicial and intelligence inquiries, it now centres on a list compiled by a corbeau (crow), or anonymous informer, that sought to link certain politicians, including Nicolas Sarkozy, the UMP leader and current interior minister, to offshore bank accounts. The list turned out to be phoney. As suspicions of an orchestrated smear campaign grew, an inquiry was launched to uncover the corbeau. During this inquiry, many leaks of testimony have emerged, particularly in Le Monde, a left-leaning newspaper.
Until the judges place suspects under formal investigation, let alone conclude their work, there will be as many questions as answers. Mr de Villepin, Mr Sarkozy's chief rival on the right, has not denied that, as foreign minister, he ordered a covert inquiry into the allegations by General Philippe Rondot, a top spy then working for the defence ministry. He did this at a meeting in January 2004 with Jean-Louis Gergorin, an executive at EADS, a defence firm, who knew Mr de Villepin from a previous stint as a diplomat. “My feeling,” General Rondot said last weekend, “is that Jean-Louis Gergorin is at the origin of the affair.” Mr Gergorin, who denies being the corbeau, was last week “relieved of his duties...in order to prepare his defence”. This week, another EADS executive, Imad Lahoud, who also denies being the informant, took leave for the same purpose.
The past two weeks have seen a war of words. Mr Sarkozy's camp suspect what one calls “an attempted political murder”. Mr de Villepin at first denied that Mr Sarkozy's name was mentioned at the meeting, then confessed that it was, but only in his then capacity as interior minister. Mr Chirac has denied that he told Mr de Villepin to set up the inquiry, as General Rondot has testified. The general now denies that Mr de Villepin ever asked him to investigate Mr Sarkozy. Yet his meticulously kept notes, seized by the judges, report Mr de Villepin's “fixation” with Mr Sarkozy. In his leaked testimony, General Rondot also said: “I acknowledge having lied [in a memo to the defence minister]...in order to shelter and protect my minister and myself from the accusation of having participated in a dubious operation to the detriment of Mr Sarkozy.” The general says he will no longer co-operate with the judges, because of all the leaks.
The upshot of this extraordinary tangle is paralysis in government, and disgust on the street. Mr de Villepin this week counter-attacked, arguing that due judicial procedure was not being respected, and deploring what he called “slander, lies and rumour”. “I refuse these dirty practices, which discredit politics,” he said. Yet the affair has quite clearly distracted ministers from their jobs. “This is not a government,” said François Hollande, the Socialist leader. “It's a battlefield.”
Even before this latest saga, Mr de Villepin had lost most of his authority after he backed down, on presidential instructions, in the face of mass protests against a new labour-market contract. Only six months ago, he had to introduce a state of emergency after riots in the suburbs. For the time being, Mr Chirac declares confidence in his enfeebled prime minister. But pressure is building among restless UMP deputies, fearful for their jobs after the election next year. Mr Chirac dislikes reacting in the middle of a storm. Yet when the country is distracted by the soccer World Cup this summer, a switch of prime ministers cannot be ruled out.
Who would it be? The obvious choice is Mr Sarkozy, whose popularity has not collapsed with the government's. A hyper-energetic fighter with an iron streak, he might bring order to Mr Chirac's last year. Yet he would not accept the job without being given a free rein to put in place the “rupture” with today's policies that he has long been preaching. Many within his camp want him to quit now, to break the association with Mr Chirac, though Mr Sarkozy has said that he will stay for the time being. For his part, Mr Chirac, who had been grooming Mr de Villepin as a presidential hopeful and has long distrusted Mr Sarkozy, would be loth to grant him the liberty he seeks. Instead, if he makes a change at all, Mr Chirac may turn to a lesser-known, more biddable caretaker.
The electorate veers between indifference and repulsion. Talk to ordinary voters far from the Paris elite, and the overwhelming reaction is nausea. A Paris-Match poll last week suggested that the Clearstream affair ranked only tenth among subjects of conversation; top was petrol prices. “For the electorate, the affair confirms the view that the political class is a separate caste that does not apply to itself the rules it applies to others,” comments Dominique Reynié, a political scientist at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques.
Up to a point, the Socialists stand to benefit from this disillusion. Ségolène Royal, the darling of the polls, now enjoys a popularity rating of 68%, according to Ifop, a pollster, compared with 57% for Mr Sarkozy and only 39% for Mr de Villepin. Despite the scorn poured on her by Socialist old-timers, she has so far resisted efforts to dismiss her potential candidacy as a media illusion. The party will choose its presidential candidate in November.
There is one other potential beneficiary: the far-right National Front. Its leader, Jean-Marie le Pen, has long played on disaffection with the elite as much as on xenophobic nationalism. Over the past month, according to a TNS-Sofrès poll, his popularity has jumped by four points to 18%—his best rating since 1996."

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