I reported last night that Ségolène Royal is in a tight run-off in the Charente-Maritime 1st constituency (La Rochelle), where she leads the second place candidate, Olivier Falorni, by a mere three points (32-29). It’s apparently more than tight, as there is a real possibly that she will lose next Sunday to Falorni. But here’s the thing: Falorni is also a Socialist, or at least he was, until his expulsion from the party for running against Ségo. As it happens, there were two local Socialist women who were in the running last year for the party’s candidacy in the Charente-Martime 1st, Falorni—who was head of the PS departmental federation—being the suppléant (alternate) of one. But as Mme Royal—the president of the Poitou-Charentes regional council—decided she wanted to return to the national assembly—and become its president no less—the Rue de Solférino decided to hand her the safe Charente-Maritime 1st on a silver platter and without a vote of the local PS membership. In effect, Mme Royal was parachuted into La Rochelle by the national PS, muscling aside the local candidates in the process. The Rochelais Socialists were furious at the peremptory decision handed down on high from Paris—they were really beside themselves (see here)—but the declared local candidates dutifully acquiesced.
Not Falorni, though, who, in an “esprit de résistance [qui] a toujours soufflé sur La Rochelle,” decided to run for the seat anyway, Ségolène or no (and with one of the erstwhile local candidates as his suppléante). And he looks to have done very well in view of his competitor’s stature. But though it’s now a duel between two Socialists (one an unwilling ex)—and Falorni, who happens to be close to François Hollande, is running as the candidate of the “majorité présidentielle”—, the national PS—led by Martine Aubry, Harlem Désir, and Bruno Le Roux—is demanding this morning that Falorni withdraw from the race, thereby leaving Royal unopposed in the second round (see here). Aubry said this morning on France Inter that it is “unthinkable” that a candidate of the left be elected thanks to voters of the right (as Falorni, if he is to overtake Royal, will need the votes of the eliminated UMP candidate). Falorni has naturally refused, saying on Europe 1 this morning that what the national PS wants is a single candidate à la soviétique and that this is 21st century France, not the Soviet Union (see above hyperlink). I find the Rue de Solférino’s position—and particularly Aubry’s argumentation—incredible. As if, among the citizenry, there are “good” voters and not good ones, that a popular, free and fair vote can in itself be tainted. The national PS fears being disavowed by uppity provincials. I thought the PS had moved beyond this sort of Jacobinism. Evidently not. If Mme Royal takes 50.1% of the vote or more next Sunday, that will be fine—democracy is democracy and I wouldn’t mind seeing her at le perchoir—, but my sympathies here are with the Girondins…
UPDATE: Renaud Dély, a journalist for whom I have a high regard, has a column in Le Nouvel Obs defending Ségolène Royal and her candidacy in La Rochelle. (June 11)