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Viewing cable 05PARIS7626, FORMER PM JOSPIN DEFLECTS SPECULATION ABOUT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05PARIS7626 2005-11-08 13:01 2011-02-10 08:08 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
Appears in these articles:
http://abonnes.lemonde.fr/documents-wikileaks/article/2011/02/09/wikileaks-les-visiteurs-de-l-ambassade_1477418_1446239.htm
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 007626 

SIPDIS 

DEPT ALSO FOR EUR/WE, DRL/IL, INR/EUC, EUR/ERA, EUR/PPD, 
AND EB 
DEPT OF COMMERCE FOR ITA 
DEPT OF LABOR FOR ILAB 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/07/2015 
TAGS: PGOV ELAB EU FR PINR SOCI ECON
SUBJECT: FORMER PM JOSPIN DEFLECTS SPECULATION ABOUT 
CANDIDACY FOR PRESIDENCY; PROJECTS POSSIBLE SOCIALIST 
VICTORY IN 2007 

Classified By: Ambassador Craig Stapleton for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 

SUMMARY 
------- 
1. (C) Over lunch with Ambassador Stapleton on November 2, 
former prime minister Lionel Jospin said that desire for 
change, along with widespread disappointment with the record 
of President Chirac and the center-right, "puts things in 
place" for a center-left victory in 2007. However, he also 
cautioned that disarray in both the center-left and 
center-right could lead to a 2007 presidential election "like 
the one in 2002" that would offer the people "no real choice" 
in the second round. He stressed that, for the institutional 
system of the Fifth Republic to work as intended, the 
Presidential election has to provide a mandate to govern, 
resulting from a choice between two credible second-round 
candidates. Pressed as to his own widely rumored return to 
politics to unify the contentiously divided PS, Jospin stuck 
to his script of insisting that he was retired and that, if 
he entered the nomination race at this time, he would only 
"add to the party's division problems." Jospin's energy and 
his evident relish in commenting on a range of domestic and 
international political issues belied both his age (68) and 
his self-deprecating dismissals of himself as "too old" and 
"a man of the past." END SUMMARY. 

"WE CAN WIN" 
------------ 
2. (C) Jospin argued that the deep divisions that are 
clouding the future of France's Socialist Party (PS) result 
from both the May 2005 referendum (when the party's 
electorate largely did not follow their leadership's call to 
vote for the EU constitutional treaty) and the April 2002 
Presidential election (when the PS, led by Jospin, failed to 
make it to the second round). Jospin insisted that the 
center-left voters' 'no' vote May 29 "was not a vote against 
the constitution," but "a vote against the government." Had 
the 2002 Presidential election not deprived voters "of a real 
choice between left and right" in the second and decisive 
round, the Constitutional referendum might not have become 
such a lightening rod for frustration across the electorate, 
particularly on the left. Jospin stressed the importance, 
for the sound functioning of the institutions of the Fifth 
Republic, that a presidential contest in France end with a 
clear mandate for a program and a candidate. A "non-contest" 
like the 2002 second round run-off between incumbent 
president Chirac and right-wing extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen 
deprived the people of the opportunity to choose between the 
records and policy projects of the center-right and the 
center-left. "Chirac didn't even bother to take the election 
seriously," Jospin said, "because he knew he would win." 

3. (C) "If we put forward a solid program" that speaks to 
French voters' concerns, then, Jospin said, "we can win" in 
2007. COMMENT: By "we," Jospin meant "the governmental 
left" -- the social democratic center of the Socialist Party 
(PS) that has (1981 - 86, 1988 - 93, and 1997 - 2002) 
controlled a majority in the National Assembly and run the 
government. Like many in the center of the left, Jospin 
believes that President Chirac's dismal record, the 
relatively good record associated with Jospin's tenure as 
prime minister (1997 - 2002) and the natural tendency in 
democracies to alternate centrist parties in power puts 
victory in 2007 well within reach of a moderate, credible 
Socialist Party candidate. END COMMENT. 

4. (C) Pressed as to who that PS candidate might be, Jospin 
resolutely struck to his script of insisting the party had 
first "to decide on a program" (at the upcoming party 
congress in mid-November), and then move on to "rallying 
behind whichever candidate emerges as the party 
standard-bearer." Jospin drew a (questionable) parallel with 
his own, "unexpected" emergence as leader of party and 
spokesperson for its platform. (Note: In 1991, after 
President Mitterand had hounded his prime minister -- and 
long-time rival for leadership of PS -- Michel Rocard out of 
office, Jospin, a Mitterrand protege, succeeded Rocard. End 
note.) Jospin said he envisioned the adoption of a party 
platform prompting the "natural emergence" of a spokesperson 
for it -- the PS's candidate for 2007. 

JOSPINS OWN AMBITIONS 
--------------------- 
5. Jospin refused to comment on who he thought would 
eventually emerge as the Socialists' candidate for the 
Presidency in 2007, although he appeared to exclude Laurent 
Fabius. Prompted to comment on his own ambitious, he was 
consistent throughout the meeting -- as he has been in public 
-- in refusing to rule himself definitively either in or out 
of the race. On the one hand, he insisted on several 
occasions that it was time to pass the baton to the next 
generation and that he was not actively campaigning. On the 
other hand, his continued references to his recently 
published book and his insistence that the party needed to 
define its program before it chooses its standard-bearer 
suggested that he might still view himself as a potential 
unifier. 

U.S.-FRANCE RELATIONS -- AND IRAQ AND THE UN 
-------------------------------------------- 
6. (C) Jospin went to great lengths to affirm his admiration 
for the U.S. and his conviction that shared, core values 
unite the U.S. and France (and Europe) despite deep divisions 
over Iraq and the role of multilateral institutions. Jospin 
was skeptical that democratic self-government can be created 
in a society unadapted to it, while acknowledging that U.S. 
withdrawal from Iraq would only lead to chaos. Jospin also 
lamented what he called the U.S.'s "turning away" from its 
historical nurturing and legitimization of multilateral 
institutions, such as the UN. Notwithstanding these 
differences, Jospin insisted that part of being allies and 
friends was the freedom to disagree about important matters 
and say so. While he agreed with French policy on Iraq, he 
had strongly disapproved of President Chirac's decision to 
brandish publicly the threat of a French veto. Jospin also 
commented that multilateral agreements (for example, on 
Climate Change, Landmines, and an International Criminal 
Court) that may seem unworkable to the U.S. nevertheless have 
great "symbolic importance," and that the U.S. underestimates 
the damage done to its international standing in opposing 
them. 

IRAN 
---- 
7. (C) Jospin said Iran's aggressive rhetoric contradicted 
its stated desire to play a more constructive role in the 
international community. Iran's ambitions as a regional 
power -- indeed, as a new rallying point for Islamic 
civilization -- Jospin implied, contradicted its claim to 
want nuclear energy purely for peaceful purposes. He 
nevertheless added that it "remained to be seen" what Iran's 
real intentions were, but then wondered whether recent 
statements by Iranian President Ahminejihad calling for 
Israel's destruction constituted a "turning point" beyond 
which there is no return. 

COMMENT 
------- 
8. (C) Jospin's remarkable energy and voluble, 
forward-looking engagement across a range of issues belied 
both his age (68) and his self-deprecating insistence that he 
was retired and without specific plans for the future. While 
it is tempting to take his protestations at face value, there 
is also room for skepticism. Many experienced observers, in 
the press and in the political class, would argue that Jospin 
may well end in the right place at the right time as the 
presidential candidate judged most capable of leading the PS 
and uniting the center-left electorate in 2007. Jospin's 
just published book -- a crisp and comprehensive, if often 
commonplace, overview of the situation facing France and what 
to do about it -- lends credence to the view that, even if he 
is not actively plotting his return to power, he is carefully 
avoiding closing the door on a possible return. The success 
of such a strategy -- to win the PS nomination by not running 
for it -- depends on his concealing his goal until it's 
clearly inevitable. Whether or not it will become inevitable 
-- that the party concludes it has no other winner in 2007 
except him -- remains to be seen. 



Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm 
Stapleton