Ségolène Royal and Ukraine
Florian Philippot, who directed Marine Le Pen’s campaign for the presidency in 2017, recently praised Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party presidential candidate in 2007. Why? Because Royal recently criticized Zelensky for faking Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
[During her presidential run in 2007, Royal on several occasions made foreign policy gaffes, most notably by expressing support for the sovereignty of the people of Quebec. Gérald Dahan, a French comedian, managed to reach her by phone by pretending to be the prime minister of Quebec’s premier, and complained about her remark. He naturally recorded the conversation. He asked what she would think if he came to France and supported Corsican independence. In an unforced error, Royal replied that “The French would not be against this by the way. Don’t repeat that. It will create another incident in France. It’s a secret.”](1)
The subject matter of this recent gaffe was far more serious. Interviewed by BFMTV on September 1, she claimed that Ukraine was sending out “war propaganda based on fear,” notably stating that the bombing of the maternity hospital in Mariupol, on 9 March, was only a “mise en scène.” She stated that “When M. Zelensky made the rounds of European Parliaments–and it’s there that the peace process stopped–he said ‘I met a pregnant woman. . . . . (sic) He was unable to give the name of this woman, we do not know the names of victims, and . . . if there had been a baby covered with blood, in this time of cellphones, we would have seen them.”(2) Aside from the implication that Zelensky isn’t doing much to make peace, she cast doubt on two incidents (the other was the carnage in the town of Bucha) which had been well documented by reporters on the scene, including the BBC, the New York Times, and the Associated Press. She also cast doubt on reports of rapes of Ukrainian women by Russian soldiers. Where was the evidence of this? She asked. (One might suggest that if rapes did not occur during this invasion, it would be a unique situation in the annals of brutal wars, such as Russia is waging.)
Benoît Sarrade, senior reporter at BFMTV, suggested that “Mme Royal was taken in by Russian propaganda.”(3) Raphaël Glucksmann, a deputy in the European Parliament who is associated with both the Socialists and the Greens (he has his own microparty, Place Publique) was blunt:
- The maternity hospital in question was bombarded.
- Ukrainian combatants have been tortured.
- A speech did not “stop the peace process”, ?, but rather the invasion of Ukraine.
- Madame Royal has become a Philippot “of the Left.”
He was referring to Philippot’s proclamation in February that “the French have a lot more to fear from Macron than from Putin.” (4)
So who, then, is Florian Philippot? He was, for several years, Marine Le Pen’s right-hand man. He shaped her 2017 presidential campaign around the issues of a “Frexit” and a return to the franc; the latter, especially, did not catch fire with the French, and her failure in the election (she received only 33% of the vote against Macron) led to his dismissal from his position and his expulsion from the party. In his 2018 book on the subject, Frexit, he describes a post-election soviet-style disciplinary hearing, as he and the party heavyweights sat around a table, so that the executive board could verbally abuse him for his mistake. He left after two hours, putting an end to the painful process. “I understood that it was finished,” he wrote, adding that he was shocked by the silence of Marine Le Pen, whom he had worked with for eight years, “as her dogs were unleashed against me.”(5)
Philippot describes himself as a “sovereignist” an anti-EU position that has has increased in importance in the past several years, with adherents on both the Left and the Right, who see the EU as interfering too intrusively into the economic policies and laws of member states. The issue of how, or if, the European Union will be reshaped will have to be confronted eventually. Unfortunately the pro-Putin Far Right is using the issue as an excuse to abandon Ukraine.
- John Thornhill, “Ségolène in Royal Pickle over Corsica,” Financial Times, January 26, 2007. https://www.ft.com/content/9b51e64c-ad78-11db-8709-0000779e2340
- Félix d’Orso, “Ukraine: la ‘description de l’horreur,’ que Ségolène Royal critique, est-elle documentée?” Le Parisien, September 3, 2022. https://www.leparisien.fr/international/ukraine-la-description-de-lhorreur-que-segolene-royal-critique-est-elle-documentee-03-09-2022-QEVNUF4T4NFR7AXMFU64BHD7MQ.php?ts=1662228500 This article links to this documentation from Associated Press: Mstyslav Chernov, “Pregnant woman, baby die after Russian bombing in Mariupol,” AP news, March 14, 2022. https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-war-maternity-hospital-pregnant-woman-dead-c0f2f859296f9f02be24fc9edfca1085
- (3) Benoît Sarrade (video), “Maternité de Marioupol,” BFMTV, September 2, 2022. https://www.bfmtv.com/international/maternite-de-marioupol-segolene-royal-a-sans-doute-ete-prise-dans-la-propagande-russe-estime-benoit-sarrade-grand-reporter-a-bfmtv_VN-202209020398.html
- Leandro Carvalho, “‘Une Philippot de gauche’: Raphaël Glucksmann outré par Ségolène royal et ses propos sur l’Ukraine,” Gala, September 2, 2022. https://www.gala.fr/l_actu/news_de_stars/une-philippot-de-gauche-raphael-glucksmann-outre-par-segolene-royal-et-ses-propos-sur-lukraine_501272
- Florian Philippot, Frexit, L’Artilleur, 2018, pp. 7-8.