You are the embodiment of all of the left's contemporary ailments. I suspected you could be the joint candidate of the left coalition let alone the president of France. But, thanks to you, Marine Le Pen will have an enormous chance of running in the second round. You said this yourself a month ago in Berlin: "It's possible" that the populist candidate from France's anti-immigration Front National (FN) could win. It is widely believed that if Le Pen reaches the second round of the election on May 7, she could face either the candidate from the right, François Fillon, or you as the candidate from the left (my hands are trembling mentioning your name as the candidate from the left). She wins in either case, according to the latest polls.
Everybody believes that your mission for the next few months seems to be salvaging the left, but you do not have a realistic chance for a run at the French presidency. François Hollande successfully splintered the left coalition as well as the Socialist Party itself. You share his terrible record, of course, in every aspect of the government. The country is still suffering from Europe's economic ills. On top of that, now France faces terrorism and ethnic tension. The Republican Fillon enjoys the comforts of being the opposition candidate; and the anti-European Marine Le Pen is riding the wave of Trumpism as well as the rise of her own National Front extremism. Obviously you are trying to steal the thunder of those who are on your right and far right with scare tactics. Your declaration of being a candidate "against Putin, Trump and Erdoğan" says everything: You and other European left parties have no program that deserves the name "socialism." Hollande did not have such programs. He was not even a front-runner for the party. When Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a prominent member of the Socialist Party and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, faced a sex assault scandal in New York, the party turned to its former leader François Hollande. He narrowly defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 elections. You were not Hollande's first choice for prime minister. You were appointed to this post when the Socialists suffered an election disaster under Jean-Marc Ayrault in the 2014 elections.
The Ayrault cabinet had introduced a long list of progressive measures, such as a reduction in the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers, cuts in ministerial salaries, a rise in the minimum wage, the introduction of a rent freeze on new contracts in some cities, an extension of social rebates on energy, increased school support for poor students; it subsidized employment for people between 16 and 25 years of age and extended entitlements to free health care to cover more people. They looked like social measurements - at least on paper. The French people did not find them sufficient, though. What did you do other than pulling the party and the president to the right? You promised to work against "demagoguery," but shouting "Down with terrorism," but you demolished Syrian refugee slums and you were booed in Nice.
People yelled "Murderer" at you. They defined you as Blairist and a Clintonian, but you acted more like Margaret Thatcher and George Bush. You also opposed grocery store chains opening branches in Muslim neighborhoods. You supported legal and illegal crackdowns on people wearing niqabs; you defended employers who fired employees who wanted to cover up at work. You declared a «general mobilization» against the appeal of «deadly» doctrines and banned Islamic bookstores and cultural clubs. Now, you implicitly accept that Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are the strongest leaders in the contemporary world where because of people like you, localism, nationalism and conservatism are rising values among the masses. And you promised to lead the French people against these values (and leaders). Monsieur Valls, I think the French people will not let you do that.
About the author
Hakkı Öcal is an award-winning journalist. He currently serves as academic at Ibn Haldun University.