Posts tagged ‘Government’
Just 3 years ago, newly elected President Sarkozy named a broad-based government which included an unprecedented number of women, minorities and members of the opposition. This openness was one of the defining features of “Sarkozyism” which drove the President to power in 2007. When this election rhetoric was transformed into ministerial appointments, the new government was hailed by some at the time as the beginning of a new period of openness and cooperation in French politics, and heavily criticized by certain members of the majority UMP party, like Patrick Devedijan, a key member of the UMP inner circle, who mockingly urged Nicolas Sarkozy to “open up the government… all the way to Sarkozyists!”.
Jolting back to political reality, the most recent government reshuffle has signaled the end of an inclusive government and the return to insider rule. Nothing highlights this shift better than the departure of several token ministers including frontbenchers Jean-Marie Bockel, Fadela Amara and in particular Bernard Kouchner, who was one of Nicolas Sarkozy’s star signings. Now the only remaining survivor of bipartisanship experiment is Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand, whose presence in the government is as symbolic as his name.
This government reshuffle also means the return to power of the traditional right. The re-appointment of Prime Minister François Fillon is a telling indicator of this swing to the right. Although considered by some as a moderate, at heart he has more conservative tendencies, and will most probably use his next period as PM to continue his deficit reduction leitmotif. We have also seen the return of many of the grand old men (and women) of the Chirac era to government, as for example Alain Juppé, former Prime Minister under Jacques Chirac (and a recurring figure in right wing governments for the past 25 years) or the talismanic Michele Alliot-Marie whose political longevity is rivaled only by her dominance of the big four ministries (Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice) over the last nine years.
The reshuffle also sees a restructuring of the power relationship between the Prime Minister and the President. Despite rumours that Francois Fillon might leave the PM spot, it is a sign of his growing power and popularity that President Sarkozy has reappointed him. To see how far Fillon has come, at the beginning of his time as PM in 2007, President Sarkozy described Fillon as a mere colleague whereas now Fillon is described by journalists as a sort of “Super Prime Minister”. Their roles, as well as their relationship, will be changing after the reshuffle. Fillon, who is more popular with the electorate and the majority representatives, will focus on domestic policy, including the final important reforms of the mandate. Even if President Sarkozy will still be actively involved in these issues, he will concentrate on international issues and will be preoccupied with the euro zone crisis, nuclear disarmament and France’s presidency of the G20.
This reshuffle can be seen as a capitulation of sorts by President Sarkozy, who has realized that he will not be able to push his agenda through parliament without the support of highly experienced key players on the right. The jury is currently out on whether this strategy will weaken or strengthen the President’s position and that of the majority UMP party with the 2012 elections coming.
The FH Paris team
The devil, they say, is in the detail and it is interesting how the debate on e-government is developing in the UK. This article from the BBC website talks about the move on from a starry-eyed reaction to Obama-esque digi-campaigning (or Election 2.0) to a practical, cost-driven desire to drive all access to government and government services online. It is this, they argue, more than anything which is driving Government pressure on suppliers to push broadband out to everyone. It may be exciting to exercise one’s democratic rights online, but it may be more useful to be able to get the bins emptied too.
Today we launch the results of our European Parliament Digital Trends Survey – www.epdigitaltrends.eu It examines how Members of the European Parliament are using the internet to communicate with their voters as well as how the same MEPs use the internet to inform their daily legislative work. As such, we hope that the results are interesting both for MEPs and for Brussels public affairs practitioners.
In summary MEPs are using the internet to communicate to voters but are not yet for the most part using all the tools available. No doubt MEPs have come a long way since the last elections, but there is still a road to travel.
For public affairs practitioners we believe that our results support the view we espoused when we started this blog 2 years ago. Like all of us MEPs are going online for information to inform their decisions. To be effective, our public affairs strategies need to integrate digital communications into their toolbox of tactics. Digital can not replace traditional tools such as contact programmes and media relations it complements them, rendering our activities more effective.
On the microsite www.epdigitaltrends.eu you will find the following:
- Our main results with supporting statistics
- An e-brochure
- A full report
- A library of downloads, including graphs and the raw data for you to make your own analysis and graphs
- Commentary from MEPs
- An opportunity for you to post your own thoughts
- The charities we supported in conducting the research
- The methodology we used – sample size etc.
In the coming days we shall be taking time to reflect on what the different parts of our results mean for public affairs practitioners in Brussels on this blog.
Thanks to all MEPs who participated and to the hardworking FH team who made it all possible (everyone in the office played some role but in particular I’d like to thank Mike, Reg, Veronique, Liliana, Julie, Carey, Aurelie, Tim, Michele, Jay, Clara and Rosie)
We look forward to your reactions to the results on the microsite and to having a debate on this blog about what our survey says about digital public affairs.
Elections are in the air, as is the Commission, its President and the European economy. So what better way to get a strategic direction for where Europe should focus its efforts than an online survey of citizens. After all, we can’t make more of a meal of it than 20, or for that matter 27, heads of state and government.
Undertaking to “tell Barroso” is, I found, a relatively painless experience and could be described more as an online brainstorm than a survey. You are asked to write down the first things that come to mind tp a simple question about what Europe should be concentrating on. Now remember folks, at this first stage in the “ideation” process it’s quantity not quality that matters. Stick to individual words or phrases and keep ’em coming. As with your traditional brainstorm, you then get the chance to expand upon your ideas in the comments box. Lots of opportunity for the ramblers amongst us to ramble, at length.
Finally and perhaps most pleasurably you get to see other people’s brainwaves and then place those you don’t like in a rubbish bin. Fantastic – there was lots of trash and I was sorting it (for energy recovery, you understand).
Now I’m a little bit of a novice at netiquette, but in normal life one is not allowed to commit such a heresy as binning ideas once they’ve been written on a post-it and placed on the wall. In traditional brainstorms ideas are all good and should be generally built upon, expanded, challenged and improved through debate and discussion. Under no circumstances should one suggest that the idea your colleague has just come up with is infantile rubbish deserving only of the waste paper bin/recycling tray. It got me thinking though, if such a heresy were allowed within the EU institutions wouldn’t our legislation be just a little bit better? Now that’s an idea someone should tell Barroso about.
*It occurs to me that Jed Bartlett does this at the end of Series 2 of the West Wing – when he decides to run for re-election. Apologies to all readers who are not addicted to the West Wing. May we suggest picking up the box set of all seven formidable seasons on Amazon for 50 quid, you’ll never be stuck for an evening’s entertainment ever again.