Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ministerial Parity

Le Monde asks whether there are enough qualified women to enable François Hollande to fulfill his pledge of ministerial parity. Aubry and, yes, Royal will surely get portfolios, and it's not difficult to imagine, say, Anne Lauvergeon as minister of industry. Among up-and-coming Socialist women, Aurélie Filipetti, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, and Delphine Batho could be in line for lesser posts, and there are undoubtedly others I've not even heard of who are under consideration. And Hollande could go outside the ranks of professional politicians, as Sarkozy did when he appointed Lagarde.

That said, is parity a good idea? Is it a useful criterion to apply when appointing a government? While recognizing that France is seriously backward when it comes to bringing women into public life, I've never liked the parity law, and its failure to produce the desired result in spite of sanctions on the parties shows that the root of the problem is deeper than legislators believed when they passed the law. More important than achieving numerical equality, I think, is appointing women to top posts. Credit where credit is due: Sarkozy did well in this regard. I doubt that Hollande will match him, but he might.

Will a woman get a regalian ministry under Hollande? I think there are too many elephants at the trough. Aubry is the best placed, but for what portfolio? Unless it's prime minister, and I still think that job will go to Ayrault, despite his 1997 conviction on corruption charges. Foreign affairs: Fabius or Moscovici. Justice: Vallini. Finance: Sapin. Defense: whichever of Fabius or Moscovici doesn't get foreign affairs, although I suppose this could go to Aubry. And places will have to be found for Valls, Montebourg, Bartolone, etc. Of course one can always multiply ministries and secretariats of state to accommodate the party faithful, but when you add up all those limousines and motorcycle escorts, the benefits of a 30% reduction in the president's salary can disappear pretty quickly. It's all a bit of a sudoku puzzle for Hollande to solve on his way to the G8 meeting or to Berlin on the night of his investiture. But the government is to be announced the following day, so he will surely have made up his mind before then, if he hasn't already.

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