Thursday, May 3, 2007

Electoral debate

To my way of thinking (which is biased, of course), Ségolène Royal was a far better performer than Nicolas Sarkozy in last night's grand TV debate.

She stared defiantly into the eyes of her opponent, and spoke with passion, whereas Sarkozy was often drooped over his notes, or glancing sideways at the journalist PPDA [Patrick Poivre d'Arvor].

Although polls maintain that Sarkozy is likely to win next Sunday, there are several positive signs in favor of Ségolène Royal. First, the Centrist ex-candidate François Bayrou has stated that he will not vote for Sarkozy... although he refrains from saying explicitly that he will vote for Ségolène. Today, Jean-Marie Colombani, director of the prestigious daily Le Monde, stated that Ségolène Royal was his preferred candidate. Colombani writes that Sarkozy's vision of politics is "American", and this adjective is interpreted by many of his readers as a condemnation. It's a fact that Sarkozy is on good terms with leading French capitalists such as Martin Bouygues, Arnaud Lagardère and Serge Dassault, who have high stakes in French media. As Colombani explains, Sarkozy appeals simultaneously to those at the top of society and to many of those at the bottom. He wants to make it easier for those at the top to invest their financial resources to create employment for those at the bottom. Sarkozy believes greatly in the old-fashioned work ethic according to which those who get up early in the morning will be winners, whereas society's jobless whiners are generally lazy losers. Needless to say, up until now, that kind of thinking has never been particularly widespread in France. Over the last week or so, Sarkozy has even dared to attack outrightly the social values associated with the legendary upheavals of May 1968. If Sarkozy wins on Sunday, I fear there'll be a lot of social turmoil just around the corner.

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