French Socialists look for best possible loser

first_img François Hollande blinks on labor bill after protests By Nicholas Vinocur Montebourg, for his part, recently came out of self-imposed exile in the business world by urging the French political system to “Uberize” — and immediately described himself as an adept of “disruption” in politics as well as in business. As for being a candidate, he said, “I’m not there, I can’t answer this question.” Associates doubt he will resist the temptation to run if Hollande bows out.The numbers don’t look goodFor all Socialist candidates, sobriety should be the order of the day. A recent poll by Sciences Po’s Center for Political Research (Cevipof) shows that Socialist voters have a poor opinion of their leaders’ capacity to make it to the second round next year. Thirty-three percent of them think Valls has the best chance of beating the conservative candidate and face Marine Le Pen in the second round, compared to 21 percent for Aubry, 16 percent for Macron and only 4 percent for Montebourg. Just 19 percent of Socialists think Hollande is the candidate most likely to make a second round — a record-low for a sitting president.Identity is what’s left when you have failed to curb unemployment” — Madani CheurfaThe same poll showed that if the election were held today, Hollande would come in third place in the first round, with 16 percent of the vote, even against his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy (21 percent), who would then go on to face Le Pen (27 percent) in the run-off.The choice of the Socialist candidate will determine the tone of the campaign, as there are wide differences between their priorities. Montebourg would campaign on the end of austerity. Macron, in the unlikely event he ran, would focus on the need to address the root causes of unemployment and France’s torn social fabric. Valls has already said he thinks the upcoming campaign should be on the theme of French “identity” and the fight against terrorism and fundamentalist Islam. Also On POLITICO “ ‘Identity’ is what’s left when you have failed to curb unemployment,” notes Madani Cheurfa, a political scientist and general secretary of Cevipof, which organized the survey.Once they have a candidate, the Socialists can be expected to be as divided on his platform as they are on their current president’s policies. Hollande’s official line is that he will seek a new term only if French unemployment has declined over a significant period of time. It is now at 10.2 percent, above the 8.9 percent EU average, and has been stable for four months even though jobless numbers have declined in most major European economies. If the weak global recovery becomes even weaker, Hollande will lose all hope of meeting his own conditions for running again.That explains why rival Socialist leaders are hard at work preparing for a post-Hollande scenario. Calls to hold a primary to choose the party’s candidate even if Hollande runs again, launched by a petition of some leftist leaders and intellectuals in January, have petered out. It now looks all but certain that a primary will be organized only if Hollande doesn’t seek reelection.Socialist free-for-allThen the fun begins, because a primary would have to be run in record time, and organized in a way that would not lay bare the divisions of the Socialist camp after five years of Hollande. That is, to put it mildly, rather unlikely. “If [Hollande] doesn’t run, we’re talking Gunfight at the OK Corral,” said a senior Socialist party figure who asked not to be identified.Would-be candidates are holding their fire as long as they’re not sure about the president’s intentions. So far only marginal candidates have indicated they would run, while another potential serious one, Lille mayor and Hollande critic Martine Aubry, said she is not interested this time. She lost the primary to Hollande in 2012.The most serious contenders are Valls and Montebourg, assuming that current Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, who just launched a pro-reform political “movement,” decides to sit one out in 2017 — a likely scenario. In the current political setup, Macron can’t run against his mentor Hollande, won’t run in a Socialist primary that he is unlikely to win anyway, and won’t take the risk of running against the official party candidate and guaranteeing the Socialists’ defeat.Valls has paradoxically staked out his own position as a contender by lauding Hollande as the best possible candidate for 2017. His insistence that “there is no alternative on the left” to Hollande’s candidacy seemed mostly geared to express the view that no one would be “legitimate” enough to defend the current policies. Subliminal message: If the man doesn’t run, then I’d be the next best choice. Long goodbye of the European Left By Pierre Briançon center_img François Hollande drops plan to change constitution By Pierre Briançon PARIS — François Hollande’s term in office came to a premature end this spring, and even the leaders of his party seem to have noticed. All eyes are now on the 2017 presidential election.While the political outlook could change in the next year, the Socialists may already be simply looking for the best possible loser: Polls so far don’t leave them much hope of making it to the second round of that contest, due in May next year.The French president’s failure to pass two major reforms on which he had staked his political future — a package of constitutional changes and a long-expected reform of the labor law  — and his abysmal popularity ratings have triggered an early start to the race. His potential successors are circling. If Hollande doesn’t run, or if he loses, the Socialist Party will need someone to repair the damage. Whoever carries the Socialist torch next year — whether current Prime Minister Manuel Valls, former economy minister and anti-austerity campaigner Arnaud Montebourg, or some other candidate — faces an uphill struggle.“Hollande’s term is basically finished. His twin failure means the end of action, so there will be no serious initiative from the presidency until the election,” said a political adviser to several government ministers.To be fair, the labor market overhaul isn’t officially dead yet. Trade union opposition to a reform that initially appeared radical by French standards pushed the government to revise it a first time — albeit on minor points. High school students keep demonstrating against the bill, and Valls said he would “look at” their demands. Even if he stands firm, however, and sees the bill through parliament, the reform is unlikely to be considered as a significant achievement by voters. Its impact will be felt only well after the election. What will be remembered is that the clumsy way the government managed the whole enterprise made it look amateurish.Rival Socialist leaders are hard at work preparing for a post-Hollande scenario.Hollande earlier this month also put an end to the debate over a series of constitutional changes, including a provision that would strip convicted terrorists of French nationality, acknowledging that he had failed to rally enough votes, either from Socialists or the opposition conservatives.Through all of this, Hollande has kept his close associates guessing. “When he launched the labor market reform I thought he had decided not to run in 2017,” the government adviser said. “That maybe he wanted to go down as the man who reformed France, even at the price of being a one-term president. Now, I’m not so sure.”last_img read more

GU Energy expands management team

first_imgEnergy gel pioneer GU Energy Labs has announced three key promotions within the business: Michael Littleton is promoted to Vice President of Finance, Magdalena Lewy-Boulet to Vice President of Innovation and Lauren O’Connor to Director of Marketing.Paving the way in research and development, Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, GU Energy’s resident US Olympian (Women’s Marathon, 2008 Beijing Games), will assume the role of Vice President of Innovation. Boasting a Masters in Exercise Physiology, Magdalena has already developed new gels for Rock-n-Roll Marathons, as well as a new Chocolate Peanut Butter flavour. As noted by GU, ‘Magda’ also happens to own the 5th fastest women’s marathon time in US history.A key player in leading GU through recapitalization in August 2013, Michael Littleton, who formerly served as Controller for GU Energy, will now take the reins as Vice President of Finance. Littleton is a CPA by trade and has been integral in helping the company navigate myriad new tax regulations as well as the many new topics engendered by GU’s recently-completed corporate headquarters.Additionally, former Senior Marketing Manager Lauren O’Connor has been promoted to Director of Marketing at GU. A former high level rugby player, O’Connor has already played a key role in development of new marketing ideas, strategies and tactics for GU, and will continue to shape brand marketing strategy in her new role.“We are incredibly excited about extending the responsibilities of Michael, Magdalena and Lauren on our management team,” said Tal Johnson, President and COO of GU Energy. “These individuals have been vital in the elevation, innovation and growth of our brand – we greatly look forward to their continued contributions in their new roles.”www.GUenergy.com Relatedlast_img read more

Passenger PORTFOLIO

first_imgSNCF has deployed two Eurostar sets on domestic services. From March 15 the units, redesignated TGV TM, began operating from Dunkerque and Valenciennes to Paris. SNCF plans to diagram them for the Brussels – Nice service during the summerSNCF is planning to open the first phase of the Eole cross-Paris route on July 14. Services from Chelles will be extended via Magenta to terminate at Condorcet St LazareNew York MTA is considering an ’adopt-a-station’ scheme to share the cost of routine maintenance. Private companies would contribute $60000 per year in return for a sign advertising their involvement. The money would allow extra staff to be employedOn April 16 Amtrak opened a US$9m multi-modal interchange station at Champagne in Illinois, providing a hub for coaches and buses feeding the City of New Orleans and Illini serviceslast_img read more

#Jamaicaelections: Jamaica Labour Party wins 2016 election

first_imgJamaican Labour Party leader Andrew Holness #Jamaicaelections: Jamaica Labour Party wins 33 of  63 constituency seatsOn Thursday evening, the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labor Party (JLP)  squeezed a tight victory over the Portia Simpson Miller-led People’s National Party (PNP), winning 33 seats to the PNP’s 30 in the Jamaican general elections this Thursday. The JLP won 51.7 percent of the votes and the PNP 48.3 percent, a margin of only 3.4 percent – the reverse of what most pollsters predicted.JLP also proved wrong the pundits’ claims that the party would lose if voter turnout was low. But, with a 52.69 percent turnout – the lowest ever in the country’s history – it was obvious the JLP garnered more support.Andrew Holness, leader of the opposition Jamaican Labour Party, shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote at a polling station Thursday in Kingston. (Gilbert Bellamy/Reuters)The results were surprising to the many South Floridians who hosted election watch parties Thursday evening. Speaking from an election watch party in Pembroke Pines, Hortense Prince said she kept close contact with both parties’ campaign, “and from all reports, the PNP seemed set to win at least 36 seats, and the elections. I am surprised, but offer my congratulations to the JLP and Andrew Holness.”The Jamaica Labor Part secured victory by winning 11 of 12 marginal seats. These seats included victory by Juliet Holness in the St. Andrew East Rural Constituency over Imani Duncan-Price. Holness will join her husband Andrew in the new Jamaican parliament. Duncan Price’s sister, Patricia Duncan Sutherland, also lost the marginal constituency of Clarendon South Eastern, which she was touted to win over veteran JLP MP Rudyard Spencer. Another closely watched marginal seat in St. Catherine W. Central was won by the JLP’s Dr. Christopher Tufton, who returns to parliament after losing his seat in St. Elizabeth in the 2011 general elections.Watch now: Wanna Bet? Betting company offers bets on who will win Jamaican electionsRegarding the PNP’s unexpected loss, James Sinclair of Coral Springs suggests that the “PNP was over confident and may not have paid attention to the ground work in the marginal constituencies as they said they would have. The people wanted to see and hear the PNP debate and answer tough questions. I think that would have inspired more people to turn out, including PNP supporters, who may have wanted more assurance from their leaders. I recall Trinidad and Tobago’s former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar refused to debate her opponent in that countries general election and also lost.”Prince’s husband Granville said he’s pleased with the closeness of the results. “The PNP has a large parliamentary group, and should be an effective opposition. This is needed, because the PNP did a good job in stabilizing the economy, and the PNP must ensure that the new government build on this and not run the country into an untenable debt situation again. The PNP must also ensure that the JLP keeps its promises to ease the financial burdens on ordinary Jamaicans.”Most members of Portia Simpson Miller’s cabinet will also return to parliament. “This should allow the new Leader of the Opposition to appoint an effective shadow cabinet,” said Granville.Holness, 43, will be assuming his second term as prime minister, but this is the first time he has secured the mandate of Jamaican voters. He was elected by JLP parliamentarians to succeed former Prime Minister Bruce Golding in 2011, following Golding’s resignation in October that year. He served for less than three months, when he called and lost the general elections in December 2011. Most members in his Cabinet have also been reelected, including Edmund Bartlett, Audley Shaw, Daryl Vaz, Olivia “Babsy” Grange and Horace Chang. In leading the JLP to victory, Holness also answered his critics, who said he would be unable to lead the JLP to an election victory.Watch Jamaica Labour Party leader Andrew Holness deliver his victory speech:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWWSFML-Rjglast_img read more