French politics

The ambivalent projects of Martine Aubry

Martine Aubry, PS leader and Harlem Desir, number 2 of the movement

On the last Monday, Harlem Désir declared to Agence France Presse (AFP) he would not run to the Parti socialiste leadership if Martine Aubry stands for again, confirming a “Le Figaro” piece of information, some days ago.

Although relatively unnoticed, the current MEP statements seem to give important indications on the current mayor of Lille’s real intentions. The last April, she declared she would not aspire to a new mandate be the leader of the party considering her job was done, that is to say, renewing the French socialist Party, winning the local and national elections and choosing a candidate for the presidential election via the organization of the primaries. After her announcement, Harlem Désir and Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, current MP of Paris and PS representative for International issues, declared their candidacy.

Some weeks before the Toulouse socialist congress, speculations still exist about the political future of Martine Aubry and doubt remains. The former Lionel Jospin’s minister for Employment and Solidarity was discreet regarding her projects but might, if we refer to the latest Harlem Desir’s statements, keep the leadership of the French socialist party, to keep having a major role within the majority.

François Hollande and Martine Aubry on November 2011

Moreover, a new mandate as PS leader for Martine Aubry might suit everybody, the person most directly concerned who might play a national political role as François Hollande who needs a structured and disciplined party within a French Left in which some components would be attempted to rebel in order to be heard better as the Front de Gauche (Left Front) and the Greens to a lesser extent. Getting on very well with the other parties, Martine Aubry remaining as leader would be very useful for the French president to calm down his partners and allies in a context in which reforms will be led and implemented.

For Martine Aubry, being the PS leader would allow her to exist politically speaking and extend pressure on the Jean-Marc Ayrault’s strategy as she is not Prime minister although she is prepared herself to this. Martine Aubry is aware of that, she wishes to be useful and appears as a possible resort in the future. Her presence, rue de Solferino (the PS headquarters in Paris), becomes a major asset especially as it is unlikely another candidacy emerges and questions her legitimacy if Martine Aubry decides to run for again.

Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Prime minister and Martine Aubry in a rally in Lille during the legislative elections

It is hard to know what the current mayor of Lille concretely wants but it is highly probable she won’t content herself with a supporting role, she who would have liked to be the François Hollande’s Prime minister, by way of acknowledge and loyalty during the presidential race. Even if she has little supporters within the Socialist Party, the fact she is the leader is an important point she can lean to keep extending pressure on the ruling majority and vis-à-vis the current Prime minister, considering herself as a loyal but vigilant partner.