mercredi 2 avril 2014

Is the French prime minister Manuel Valls the new Tony Blair?

Valls, like a long line of politicians before him, is happy to be called the 'Heir to Blair'.Just don't mention the word 'socialist'

French prime minister Manuel Valls: described himself as a 'Blairiste'. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

Name: Manuel Valls.

Age: 51.

Appearance: Tony Blair, but French.

He doesn't look anything like Tony Blair. He's not that French, either. He was born in Barcelona to a Catalan father and a Swiss Italian mother.

Why is he claiming to be French, then? Because he became a French citizen at the age of 17. And he's also the prime minister of France.

Prime minister? What happened to … erm … uh … Jean-Marc Ayrault?

Yes. Him. He resigned on Monday, following the government's poor showing in local elections on Sunday. President Hollande appointed Valls, the interior minister, as his replacement.

What's that got to do with Tony Blair? Britain's former Europeminister, Denis MacShane, told the Guardian that Valls was "the closest thing France has to a Tony Blair".

Is that meant to be a good thing? Oh, yes. Valls is just the latest in a long line of politicians laying dubious claim to the title "Heir to Blair".

Name five. David Cameron, David Miliband, Nick Clegg, Italy's prime-minister-at-press-time MatteoRenzi, Michael Gove.


Does Manuel Valls say weird things like that about himself? He has described himself as both a "Blairiste" and a "Clintonian".

And what do you suppose those terms mean in the context of French politics? At a guess – amodernising reformer, mistrusted by the left but still remarkably popular compared with virtually all present day politicians.

Is he a moderniser? Sure. To the extent that he once suggested that the word "socialist" be dropped from his party's name.

What's his party called? The Socialist party.

And is he really that popular? Well, a recent survey indicated that 20% of French women would happily have a "torrid affair" with him.

When will this relentless sexual objectification of male politicians end? Who knows?

Do say: "If the French Socialist government can be saved, he's the man to do it." (© DenisMacShane)

Don't say: "Socialist."




Sans doute, sauf que Elio n’est point blairiste, ni de près ni de loin. Quoique,… comme premier ministre il fut aussi monarchiste et aussi centriste que le fringant Tony.

Wait and see si Valls sortira le président et son gouvernement de l’ornière.

Père catalan, mère italo-suisse, éducation française, un vrai Européen comme on en rêve ?

Dans moins de deux mois c’est l’épreuve du vote européen. Il a des atouts pour renverser la tendance nationaliste.

Ce sera tout juste mais c’est jouable.


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