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Viewing cable 06PARIS4247, SOCIALIST PARTY LEADER ON HOW PS-LED FRANCE WOULD

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06PARIS4247 2006-06-21 08:08 2010-12-01 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 004247 

SIPDIS 

DEPT ALSO FOR EUR/WE, DRL/IL, INR/EUC, EUR/ERA, EUR/PPD, 
AND EB 
DEPT OF COMMERCE FOR ITA 
DEPT OF LABOR FOR ILAB 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2015 
TAGS: PGOV ELAB EU FR PINR SOCI ECON
SUBJECT: SOCIALIST PARTY LEADER ON HOW PS-LED FRANCE WOULD 
APPROACH U.S.: "NEITHER BLAIR NOR CHIRAC" 

REF: PARIS 3725 

Classified By: Ambassador Craig Stapleton for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 

SUMMARY 
------- 
1. (C) Socialist Party (PS) First Secretary Francois 
Hollande and PS National Secretary for International Affairs 
Pierre Moscovici briefed the Ambassador June 8 on the 
turbulent race for the presidential nomination within the PS 
and the hurdles facing the party as it looks to next year's 
presidential and legislative elections. Hollande underlined 
that, notwithstanding Poitou-Charentes Region President 
Segolene Royal's commanding lead today in polls, both among 
the public at large and among PS members, PS members' 
convictions as to which PS leader "is best placed to beat 
Sarkozy" could well change between now and the PS's 
presidential primary in November. Hollande nonetheless 
believed the primary would produce a clear cut result, 
"probably in just one round." Asked what might be expected 
from French foreign policy under a socialist government, 
Hollande used the phrase "neither Blair and Chirac" to 
characterize an overall stance towards the U.S. that would 
not be uncritically supportive, but also not be gratuitously 
obstructionist. On Europe, Moscovici stressed that a 
Socialist president and government would be much more 
pro-Europe than President Chirac and the government of Prime 
Minister Dominique de Villepin. END SUMMARY. 

ATMOSPHERICS 
------------- 
2. (C) Over breakfast with the Ambassador at the residence 
on June 8, Socialist Party (PS) First Secretary Francois 
Hollande and PS National Secretary for International Affairs 
Pierre Moscovici were confident, optimistic and dismissive of 
the drumbeat of media reports that insist that frictions and 
divisions within the PS will make it difficult for the party 
to close ranks behind a single candidate for the 2007 
presidential race even after the party primary next November. 

UPCOMING ELECTIONS WILL BE HARD FOUGHT 
-------------------------------------- 
3. (C) Hollande and Moscovici predicted that the 2007 
presidential and legislative elections would be particularly 
hard fought because neither of the two major parties "can 
count on more than 30 percent of the electorate." (Note: The 
center-left PS and the center-right Union for a Popular 
Movement (UMP) are the preponderant parties in a political 
spectrum that includes the small, centrist Union for French 
Democracy (UDF) party along with a range of micro parties. 
Indeed, if the pattern of past presidential elections holds 
in 2007, there will be over a dozen candidates competing in 
the first round of the election. End note.) Hollande 
suggested that, since neither of the major parties can aspire 
to majority status, the UDF might well find itself with 
leverage beyond its size, particularly if in the legislative 
elections that follow the presidential election, neither the 
PS nor the UMP win a near majority of seats. Hollande added 
that, in both the presidential and legislative elections, the 
Communist Party (PC) and other far-left parties "would vote 
against the right," but not join in any socialist government 
in the event of a PS-led legislature. 

4. (C) Hollande expressed his firm conviction that the PS 
was well-positioned to win both the presidential and 
legislative contests, but that both elections will be 
extremely close. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, barring 
an unexpected reverse, would be the center-right's candidate, 
and -- according to Hollande -- will benefit from the active 
support of President Chirac, "if Sarkozy is nice to him." 
That is, according to Hollande, if Sarkozy agrees to look 
after Chirac loyalists and, by implication, Chirac himself. 
(Note: Chirac will lose his immunity from prosecution upon 
leaving office; corruption charges for political financing 
activities dating from before he became president remain 
pending against him. End note.) Hollande said that he did 
not believe that Chirac would prefer to see the PS candidate 
take the presidency rather than see Sarkozy become his 
successor. Even so, Hollande also spoke of the bitterly 
personal, "fratricidal" rivalries on the center-right, 
comparing them to the less personal, more ideological 
rivalries in his center-left, PS. 

THE CHALLENGE OF REFORM WITHOUT A MANDATE 
----------------------------------------- 
5. (C) Hollande said that whoever wins the presidency in 
2007, the electoral system and divisions in the electorate 
are such that the victor will not have a "mandate for 
reform," and certainly not a mandate in the majority 
rule/winner-takes-all "American" sense of the term. This 
meant that reforms would come slowly, if at all. However, 
Hollande also ruled out the possibility of a president from 
one party and a parliamentary majority from another, saying 
that he believed the back-to-back presidential and 
legislative elections would both reflect the voters' decision 
for change. This would help, Hollande said, to bring about 
some significant reforms, albeit slowly. 

UPBEAT ABOUT THE STATE OF THE PS 
-------------------------------- 
6. (C) Hollande was bullish and buoyant about the state of 
the PS. He pointed to the party's recent consensus on its 
"project for 2007" -- a platform statement that all the 
party's presidential hopefuls agreed to with little argument 
-- as evidence of the party's stability and unity, even as he 
allowed that it would not be binding on the various 
candidates. Hollande and Moscovici agreed that recent 
meetings to hammer out the platform were, by PS standards, 
rather non-eventful, and the press coverage of rejection of 
proposals by Royal and others "highly exaggerated." 

7. (C) Hollande proudly underlined the policy statement's 
call for enhanced social programs, while admitting, when 
pressed, that implementing everything it calls for might 
prove a little "expensive." (Comment: Indeed, differences 
over the likely cost of the PS's electoral program (Hollande 
cites the figure of 30 billion Euros, whereas Strauss-Kahn 
has said the price tag is closer to 50 billion) are sure to 
fuel controversy over the proposal and PS candidate's 
commitment to implementing it if elected. End Comment.) 
Hollande added that the electoral program's "social 
dimension" could help the PS attract center-right "Gaullist 
voters" disaffected with the UMP's free-market liberalism. 

PREDICTS A ONE-ROUND PRIMARY 
---------------------------- 
8. (C) Hollande confidently predicted that the PS would 
unify behind whoever wins the primary in the interest of 
victory -- though he conceded that primaries can sometimes 
weaken rather than strengthen a candidate. He defended the 
November date for party's choosing of a candidate, saying 
that, had the candidate been chosen now, he/she would have 
been subjected to a potentially crippling drumbeat of 
criticism from the right. Hollande also confidently 
predicted that the PS's November primary would produce a 
clear cut winner, "probably in just one round." Hollande 
said that, above all, party members "want a winner" and will 
therefore support the candidate most likely to beat Sarkozy 
in a putative, second round run-off. 

ROYAL 
----- 
9. (C) Hollande strongly implied that that candidate could 
easily be Royal, saying that if the primary were held today, 
"she will win and be the candidate," barring a sharp downturn 
in her popularity in the pitiless triage of an intensifying 
presidential campaign. 
Hollande noted that Royal is not part of the traditional 
party establishment, and commented that the attacks against 
her have only served to make her all the more popular. 
Referring to her opponents among the socialists, Hollande 
said that those who resented her sudden success, and took 
cheap shots at her, were as a practical matter, "acting as 
her allies." Hollande wondered out loud if her popularity 
would last, accurately identifying that as the key question 
about her candidacy. Several times he mentioned the 
unpredictability of politics, making clear that he believed 
much could happen between now and next May's first round of 
the presidential election that could turn upside down "the 
givens of today." In particular, Hollande evoked how a major 
international crisis -- he gave Iran as an example -- might 
completely change the dynamics of the upcoming elections. 

CAREFUL NOT TO RULE OUT HIS OWN CANDIDACY 
----------------------------------------- 
10. (C) Hollande was careful to make clear that he too was 
prepared to run as a unifying candidate, but only if it 
seemed to him he would be likely to win the party primary -- 
hands down in the first round. He was categorical in ruling 
out that that he would not/not run "out of pride" or "to get 
10 percent of the vote." (Comment: Clearly, the only 
circumstances under which Hollande would be likely to win big 
in the primary, is if Royal for some reason drops out. End 
Comment.) 

FABIUS 
------ 
11. (C) Hollande contrasted his "team player" attitude with 
what he dismissively called former prime minister Laurent 
Fabius' "accountant" mentality, saying, "just because 20 
percent of the party supports him, he thinks that entitles 
him to 20 percent of whatever the party does." Almost as an 
afterthought, Hollande added "no matter what, Fabius will 
run." 


EUROPE 
------ 
12. (C) Moscovici said that a PS administration would be much 
more pro-Europe than President Chirac and Prime Minister de 
Villepin (see also reftel). Both Hollande and Moscovici saw 
a need to use Europe to consolidate defense industries and 
reduce defense expenditures through economies of scale. 
Hollande noted sardonically that France was unable to sell 
its fighters and tanks to anyone. Moscovici saw a need for 
an increased parliamentary role in policy-making related to 
Europe, complaining that there was currently too much power 
concentrated in the presidency. Hollande described the 
absurd situation where the prime minister, who does not 
participate in European Council meetings, represents the 
government during the question-and-answer sessions in the 
National Assembly to defend policies set by the President. 
Hollande did not disagree with timeline set by Chirac and 
German Chancellor Merkel for getting Europe back on its feet 
in 2007-2008, noting the importance of the Franco-German 
tandem and saying that, if the effort failed, it would take 
another 4-5 years to come up with something new. 

13. (C) Both Hollande and Moscovici made clear they that they 
believed Chirac had no credibility for proposing anything now 
to advance the European project, and both dismissed the idea 
that the rejected constitution could be subjected to a second 
referendum or, worse in their view, passed through 
parliament. Holland and Moscovici agreed something new would 
be required "to get Europe moving again," but they had 
nothing specific to suggest. In the interim, Moscovici 
suggested, it might be possible to use Croatian accession to 
introduce a few institutional reforms that could be approved 
by the parliaments of member states. Hollande dismissed 
Sarkozy's ideas for having the six largest EU members states 
play a leading role in setting policy, saying they were based 
on outmoded ideas of "great powers" setting policy for 
"little powers.". 

FRANCE ) U.S. RELATIONS 
----------------------- 
14. (C) Hollande gave a slightly different version of the 
argument we usually hear that, while the French at a large 
disagree with the U.S. intervention in Iraq, Chirac and 
Villepin should nonetheless not have confronted the U.S. so 
openly. Hollande argued that Chirac erred by not making it 
clear from the beginning how far he was prepared to go to 
oppose the U.S. If Chirac had communicated more clearly how 
strongly he felt about the matter, it would not have led to 
the false impression that France might come along in the end. 
Moscovici repeated his calls for dialogue aimed at 
attempting to find agreement when the U.S. and France should 
differ, adding that differences should be the exception and 
not the rule. Hollande said he wanted a French foreign 
policy more firmly rooted in universal values, such as 
support for democracy, rather than the highly personalized 
approach which characterized the Chirac years. 

COMMENT 
------- 
15. (C) The are those among the PS's heavyweights, -- 
Strauss-Kahn, Fabius and their supporters -- who believe that 
Hollande is subtly, successfully shaping developments so that 
the PS candidate will wind up being either Royal or himself. 
Commentators and party insiders refer to this pair of 
possible outcomes as the "popularity" and "institutional" 
options. In the case of the first, Royal successfully uses 
her popularity with the public to impose herself on the party 
as its candidate. If, however, Royal and her popularity 
should for some reason falter, revealing a deeply splintered 
party with no attractive candidates (the situation before her 
emergence as the clear front-runner), then the 
"institutional" option -- turning to the party leader to lead 
the party in the election -- could become a viable one. 
Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm 
STAPLETON