Friday, May 4, 2007

Risk of turbulence ahead

I've already stated my opinion that the "tough guy" image of Nicolas Sarkozy could become a provocation for countless individuals in France, with nothing to win or lose, who would simply wish to stir up trouble in the streets. For many years, these people have been referred to by a vague generic term: the casseurs (literally, the "smashers"). They're well-organized. Often, they assemble on the fringe of authentic political demonstrations and go into action when everybody, including the police, is least expecting it. There's no sense in hiding the fact that these individuals exist, and that they see Nicolas Sarkozy almost as a sporting opponent, whom they're "out to get". As depicted in the following graffiti in a nearby village, Sarko is often relegated (unjustly, it must be said) to the role of a diabolical Fascist:

This morning, Ségolène Royal stated that Nicolas Sarkozy is "a risk" for France. She refers to her opponent as "the candidate of the hard right-wing", and warns that, if Sarkozy were victorious next Sunday, "there will be very strong tensions throughout the country". She added that Sarkozy's bid for power was "dangerous in terms of a concentration of power, of brutality, of lies".

The former Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin has been equally explicit on the question of Sarkozy. He denounced "the violence of some of his words, his tendency towards demagogy and clientélisme (patronage), and the impression he gives of being constantly in overdrive".

There's no guaranty, of course, that "smashers" would be more conciliatory with Ségolène Royal, if she were elected. After all, she has been quite outspoken on youthful delinquency, and has even evoked the strange idea of calling upon the army to force some civic common-sense into the behavior of offenders. The big difference between Ségo and Sarko is that the lady is not generally looked upon explicitly as a symbol of provocation.

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