PARIS—Former prime minister Francois Fillon, outraged at losing a chaotic internal leadership vote marred by irregularities, announced Tuesday that he and his followers are splitting off from France’s main conservative party and forming their own parliamentary group.
Fillon said the breakaway faction could return to the mother party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), if a new leadership election were held within three months. But his victorious rival, Jean-Francois Cope, has already rejected that proposal, suggesting that France’s right-wing conservatives are likely to remain in disarray for some time with two hostile political figures each claiming to be in charge.
Sarkozy’s success in winning the Presidency of France papered over a much deeper rift between the two factions, who kept silent in order to maintain party unity behind Sarkozy.
Well, now it’s “Partie unité, mon coule!”
And yes, the split involved immigrants and Islam, at least partly. Fillon, to his credit, repudiated scare tactics like this in the heat of the campaign to re-re-elect Sarkozy.
And that’s when things fell apart for French conservatives.
I raise this article because of the interesting dynamic we are starting to see in America. Support for Grover Norquist, the unlikely tax cut Svengali of an entire national party, has been eroding quickly in the face of the wholesale repudiation of the electorate of the politics of anger, fear, and greed.
Meanwhile, a ludicrous, even silly, movement to force secession into the national dialogue has fertilized the ground for a fracture of the Republican party.
Make no mistake about it: the Republican hierarchy is dismantling, and what then do the Teabaggers (Les Sachetiers de Thé) do about it? They do not have the numbers for a full-scale takeover of the GOP, and while they may have the resources to finance a third party, it will be a humiliation for them except in places like the Plains states and deep, deep South.
You see, people are generally civilized, which works against Baggery.
Eventually, the moderate…and I used the term advisedly…Republican hierarchy, the one that values power over ideology — particularly when the ideology can be written in crayon — will stomp a mudhole in the Baggers. They know a losing hand and while it worked in one election and could be deployed in 2014, for national election years, it’s a no-win proposition. They cannot juggle the feelings of the far right with the lust for power.
So keep an eye on France. This could be interesting, in a Chinese way.