By Joan Trevor
There’s nothing like rumours of two ambitious politicians from the same party slugging it out in the backrooms to put the voters off politics.
Open warfare would be far better, where the public could judge whether there were actually differences of political substance between the protagonists or whether they were just fighting over when Buggins’ turn to be the king of the castle begins.
A feud to rival the disgusting squabble between dirty rascals Tony Blair and Gordon Brown has been unfolding in France, between rival right-wing 2007 presidential hopefuls, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy.
Their mutual disgust has come to a head over the Clearstream affair. To summarise this ongoing saga, it starts with an investigation into possible bribes paid to French officials for the sale of frigates to Taiwan in 1991. Then in 2004 de Villepin, then foreign minister, asks a senior intelligence officer, General Philippe Rondot, to investigate rumours of corruption linked to the sale. The investigating judge (2001) receives “evidence” from an anonymous sender that implicates businessmen and politicians, including Nicolas Sarkozy, then economy minister, in corruption.
It turns out that the accusations are false.
Sarkozy accuses de Villepin of plotting to sully his reputation. De Villepin denies this. The investigations continue.
Jump to 16 May 2006. In a vote of confidence in the Parliament, de Villepin survives, but he could be expected to, as his party has a massive majority – still, some on his side stay away from the vote. He makes out that he is the victimised party, for being accused of dirty tricks. His reputation, and that of his patron President Jacques Chirac, is hopelessly sullied.
Nicolas Sarkozy remains the most popular politician in France among right-wing voters. The man most likely to beat the Socialist Party in 2007.
He kept his head down during the government’s disaster with their proposed Contrat Première Embauche (CPE), which was defeated by massive mobilisations of students, young people and workers.
But if he keeps appearing to come up smelling of roses, it must be remembered that his politics are rooted in the foulest manure.
He champions law and order against the youth of the suburbs – his insulting remarks helped spark last autumn’s riots. His latest work, as he courts supporters of the fascist Front National (FN), is a reform of the CESEDA, the law governing the entry and right to remain of foreigners and the right to asylum.
Sarkozy’s new measures were passed in the parliament on 17 May.
The measures can be summed up as “a new and extremely serious attack against foreign workers and democratic gains” and include:
• the end of the automatic right to stay after 10 years in the country;
• new obstacles to obtaining documentation and the right to bring family to France;
• new restrictions on the right of poor foreigners to study in France;
• xenophobic and nationalist ideology about “selective immigration”, blaming unemployment on immigrants.
(Acknowledgements to the Groupe Communiste Révolutionnaire Internationaliste (CRI) for this summary).
The far-left sees the new measures in the context of the general attack on the rights of workers, massively exacerbating the drive towards job insecurity – what the French call précarité.
Unfortunately, in spite of two demonstrations, the last one on 29 April of at least 25,000, and a petition regrouping 600 organisations, the measures go ahead. Sarkozy’s propaganda, echoing that of the FN, has an echo among the French population. A recent survey found a third of those polled saying the extreme right is close to their concerns, with immigration their biggest worry.
At the very sharp end of Sarkozy’s racist measures right now are large numbers of young people, coming to the end of their academic year, whose parents are illegal immigrants. Sarkozy has ordered police to round them up and expel them with their families after the school term finishes at the end of June. He wants at least 25,000 deportations by the end of 2006.
Campaigners have pledged to resist and help the young people evade capture and expulsion.
• More at: www.educationsansfrontieres.
More about the reform of CESEDA at www.contreimmigrationjetable.org/