Sarkozy’s Challenger: François Hollande Steps Up After Strauss-Kahn’s Fall

The winner of the Socialist party primary Sunday will face Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency in the 2012 election. Hollande is not only a DSK rival, but also the former companion of Ségolène Royal, who lost to Sarkozy in 2007.

Socialist Party candidate François Hollande
Socialist Party candidate François Hollande
François-Xavier Bourmaud and Nicolas Barotte

PARIS - A year ago, he was last in all the major polls – behind Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Socialist party chief Martine Aubry. So indeed we can say that François Hollande, from the central French department of Corrèze, had come a long way when, on Sunday night, he was elected as the Socialist Party's candidate for the French presidency.

His presidential ambitions go back quite a ways, and he was openly considering a run in the 2007 elections. He thought he could beat the top Socialist Party rivals: Laurent Fabius, an enemy; Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose weaknesses he sensed; even Lionel Jospin, who was looking to return to politics after his crushing defeat in 2002. As then leader of the party, Hollande let internal squabbling run its course, believing that institutional legitimacy would propel him forward for the end game.

He was wrong. His plans were derailed by his own partner and mother of his children, the popular Ségolène Royal, who threw her hat into the electoral ring. Politics became entangled with their private life (their relationship was on the skids, and they have since separated). A movement was created in Royal's favor, and she ultimately became the Socialist Party candidate opposite the center-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) candidate Nicolas Sarkozy.

In 2008, at the end of the Reims Congress at which Martine Aubry took over the party's leadership, Hollande was at a low point. Reviled by the Socialists, held responsible for the party's chaos, an exhausted Hollande ended his 11-month stint as the party's first secretary. Looking back over his tenure, his victories in regional elections in 2004 tended to be overlooked: focus was on the two presidential elections lost under his leadership (Jospin in 2002, Royal in 2007).

But now, at 57, it's his turn -- and he never doubted that turn would come. Hollande is one of those politicians who believe they are destined for certain roles, in this case a presidential one. Now that he's in a position to achieve it, it almost comes as a surprise.

Conflict averse

François Hollande doesn't tend to get angry with people. He never did. "He detests conflict, it's not in his nature. When you have a discussion with him, it always goes very well. He generally agrees with you at the time, although he may not later," says Henri Emmanuelli, a Socialist party politician.

And Hollande doesn't deny it. On the contrary, he claims the trait helped him keep the party united during some of its toughest times, when it was in danger of exploding – such as after Jospin's defeat in 2002 in the first-round of presidential voting by far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, or after the "no" vote on the referendum on the European Constitution, which his party had supported. But nobody was remembering any of that on the night of the Reims Congress.

After Reims, Hollande disappeared from the radar for awhile before reemerging in late June 2009. In Lorient, he laid out the building blocks of his program – three "pacts," one educational, one fiscal, and one productive. He made little impact. The potshots fellow Socialists Martine Aubry and Ségolène Royal were taking at each other, and a silent Dominique Strauss-Kahn looming in the background, captured all the attention.

But all the while a "presidentialization" operation was taking place in the Hollande camp, which includes the candidate avoiding the little jokes he used to enjoy, while polishing up his image: he has lost weight, changed the style of his glasses, and is dressing more elegantly.

Who, just as little as a year ago, would have thought he could make it this far? In late June 2010, he was still placing last in the polls. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was the one everyone was sure would carry the day if he ran. But even Martine Aubry and Ségolène Royal looked to be better placed. "The objective is to come in third," was the cautiously optimistic word from the Hollande camp.

But despite his air of mildness, Hollande is unshakable. When the Strauss-Kahn scandal propelled him to first place in the polls last May, he was ready. All he needed to do from that point on was manage his advance, which he did steadfastly all through the primary by hammering home his plans for fiscal reform and a new generational contract on the labor market.

Read the original article in French

Photo - LCP - Assemblée Nationale

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Art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 你好*

Welcome to Tuesday, where violence erupts after Sudan's military coup, Australia finally gets onboard with climate change goals, and Harrison Ford stars in Raiders of the Lost Credit Card. From Bogota, we also see what the capture of drug kingpin Otoniel means for Colombia, a country long stained by cocaine trafficking.

[*Nĭhǎo - Mandarin Chinese]


Saving the planet is really a question of dopamine

The elite of the ecologically minded are set to descend on Glasgow next week for the Cop 26 conference on climate change. But beyond debating policy prescriptions, French daily Les Echos explores the role our own brains have on making the right choices for the planet:

Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.

This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the "pleasure hormone."

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Stefano Lupieri / Les Echos


• Sudan in chaos following military coup: After Sudan's military seized power from the transitional government, defiant anti-coup protesters have returned to the streets of the capital city Khartoum, for a second consecutive day. At least seven people have been killed and 140 injured. Coup leader General Al-Burhan has announced a state of emergency across the country, while the military cut off access to the internet and closed roads, bridges, and Khartoum's airport. Washington condemned the coup and suspended aid, and the U.N. Security Council was expected to discuss Sudan behind closed doors later today.

• Egypt lifts state of emergency in force since 2017: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announced the end of a four-year-old state of emergency, undoing powers that had given the government sweeping authority to quash protests, make arrests, search people's homes without warrants, and control everyday life in the most populous Arab country.

• Platforms take down Bolsonaro video linking vaccine and AIDS: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have removed an anti-vaccine video from their respective platforms posted by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Beyond blocking the video, in which Bolsonaro falsely linked the COVID-19 vaccine with developing AIDS, YouTube went further and suspended the far-right leader for a week.

• COVID update: The U.S. will launch a new travel system on November 8, imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national travellers and lifting severe travel restrictions over China, India and much of Europe. Meanwhile, authorities in northern China are reimposing lockdown, and other emergency measures as COVID-19 infections spread to 11 provinces.

• Australia pledges net zero emissions by 2050: As one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita and a major exporter of fossil fuels such as coal, Australia has finally committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. This is a target already adopted by most nations heading to next week's COP26 international climate conference, but that Australia had so far refused to pledge.

• Japanese princess loses royal status over wedding: Japan's Princess Mako married her boyfriend Kei Komuro, giving up her royal status. Under Japanese law, female imperial family members lose their status upon marriage to a "commoner" although male members do not.

Raiders of the Lost Credit Card: A tourist returned the credit card of American actor Harrison Ford, who had lost it in Sicily while shooting scenes for the latest Indiana Jones movie.


"Out of control," titles German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, reporting on the release of a series of articles by a consortium of 17 U.S. news outlets, called the "Facebook Papers," that reinforce whistleblower Frances Haugen's claims that the social media giant is prioritizing profits over the well being of its users and society.


$1.01 trillion

After striking a deal to sell 100,000 electric vehicles to car rental firm Hertz, Elon Musk's Tesla has joined Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google's Alphabet in the club of companies that have reached a $1 trillion valuation.


What the capture of a drug kingpin means for Colombia

While the capture of Otoniel, Colombia's most wanted drug trafficker, made global headlines, Bogotá daily El Espectador writes about the significance of the news for a country that has battled narcotrafficking for decades.

👮 The arrest of the Colombian mobster Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, a.k.a. "Otoniel," is a victory for Colombian intelligence, law-and-order forces and the broader fight against crime. Details of the eight-year-long pursuit of the head of the Gulf Clan, of the tireless and meticulous work, testify to the capabilities that the police and army have managed to develop in the fight against the narco-trafficking that has long been a stain on Colombia.

🇨🇴🇲🇽 Otoniel is responsible for a criminal organization with more than 3,800 members and influence on 12 departments and 128 districts in Colombia (though data from the Bogotá-based Peace and Reconciliation Foundation counts 211 districts). The Gulf Clan sends half the drugs going out of Colombia, and is the main exporter to Mexico. Its ties to the Mexican cartel chief Joaquín "el Chapo" Guzmán are well-documented — and Otoniel had aspired to fill the power vacuum left by Guzmán's capture.

⚖️ Some have observed that the ensuing power vacuum will engender more violence, which is true. But we are, in any case, far from eliminating drug trafficking in Colombia or cutting its tentacles across public life. That shows the limitations of the hard-line response to drugs, when we have seen it is not enough. Still, it is essential in any fight against crime for the state to show its operational capabilities. The message is clear: not even drug overlords are above the law in Colombia.

➡️


"I love Mako. I would like to spend my one life with the person I love."

— Kei Komuro said during a news conference after his wedding with Japan's Princess Mako, the niece of the current emperor and the sister of the likely future sovereign. The princess lost her royal status as a result of her marriage with Komuro, a "commoner."


An art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, as part of the 2021 exhibition "'Forever Is Now," the first international art exhibition to take place there — Photo: Balkis Press/Abaca/ZUMA

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Send all commoner and royal well wishes to Mako and Kei — and let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world!

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