Showing posts with label French presidential campaign 2012. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French presidential campaign 2012. Show all posts

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Voices from the Socialist past

Throughout the coming week, we can expect some spectacular fireworks (akin to the final five minutes in a yet-undecided rugby match) as Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande move towards the final moment of truth, next Sunday.

Their forthcoming TV debate will be followed by everybody in France. I don't imagine that there'll be a "winner" and a "loser", unless one of the candidates has a fit of madness... which is a perfectly serious possibility that must not be excluded a priori. And, even if one guy succeeded in knocking out his opponent, I'm not sure that this would change French voting opinion enormously. I believe that most people have already made up their minds, and it's Bye-bye Nicolas (along with your glitzy watches, your charming kids and your top-model wife).

The only thing I regret profoundly in the inevitable impending victory of the left is that Sarko was an adept of cycling, whereas Hollande is a dull soccer guy. OK, I'm a cycling snob, but I find it hard to imagine the president François Hollande watching with enthusiasm (necessary madness) a mythical ascension of the Ventoux. Unless Hollande can do something about this weakness (maybe there are training courses in this domain), his incapacity to go crazy about pairs of wheels on mountain slopes could well turn out to be a significant political handicap.

Meanwhile, we've just heard Dominique Strauss-Kahn informing us that his affair in Manhattan was some kind of Sarkozian setup.

Frankly, for the moment, I can't figure out why DSK chose the present crucial moment (between the two rounds of the presidential elections) to make this disturbing revelation. Is there method in his madness? For the moment, it's impossible to say... But who gives a fuck (apart from DSK, who's apparently good at giving that kind of thing)?

As for the opinions of the former presidential candidate Lionel Jospin, they're easier to understand.

Jospin claims that Sarko was using "the weapon of lies" in suggesting that 700 Muslim mosques in France had proclaimed that their flock should vote for François Hollande. Personally, I've never found it difficult to believe, nor even alarming, that Sarko and his friends might be tempted, from time to time, to play around with the truth.

I'm not saying that being a socialist in France today is a permanent cure against telling political lies... but it seems to help at times.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Final word, first word

Click here to see this final word—of a rather personal nature—that François Hollande offers his supporters on the eve of the first round of the presidential elections. Let us hope that this final word will in fact be the first word of a new era in France.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I love this photo, taken a year ago, which reveals the obvious sympathy, if not complicity, between the Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande (the man for whom I'll be voting next Sunday) and the ex-president Jacques Chirac. They're two rural gentlemen who would appear to be on similar wavelengths in many domains.

But we hear that Chirac, next Sunday, will be allowing his wife Bernadette to vote on his behalf. That's reassuring news for Sarkozy... who's more in need of good news (it would appear, according to the latest polls) than Hollande.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Change is now

François Hollande has just released his official electoral video for the presidential campaign.

A constantly reoccurring concept is égalité (equality): the middle term in the motto of the French Republic.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The erotic operation that English-speaking people designate curiously as blowing is generally looked upon, in France, as sucking.

It's also referred to as pumping.

And that brings me to one of the most celebrated anecdotes in France... which I heard for the first time from a professor during a class at the Institute of Political Science in Paris, many years ago. Most French people are aware of the exceptional circumstances in which the life of the 58-year-old president Félix Faure was brought to a joyous end. He had a 30-year-old friend, Marguerite Steinheil, known as Meg, the wife of an artist. On 16 February 1899, the president phoned Meg and suggested that she might drop in at the Elysée Palace towards the end of the afternoon. Well, they were engaged in a hot pumping session on a sofa in the Blue Room of the presidential residence when Meg was alarmed to discover that her lover had suddenly gone limp. Not just his organ, but all over. Clearly, Félix Faure had suffered some kind of major attack, and Meg was convinced that her man was dying. So, she called for help, while scrambling to get her clothes back on and preparing to abandon the palace before all hell broke loose. The president's staff arrived on the scene immediately, as depicted in this stylized magazine illustration:

The anecdote that has gone down in history is a bit hard to translate into English. It concerns the arrival of a priest who asked timidly, before being ushered into the room where the president lay dying: "Has the president retained his consciousness?" A secretary, imagining that the priest was referring to the young lady who had spent the last hour pumping sublime consciousness into the president, replied: "No, Father, she took off immediately down a side staircase as soon as she realized what had happened."

In French, the words for "pump" and "pomp" (as in "pomp and circumstance") are identical. And the everyday expression for an undertaker's activity is "pompe funèbre", literally funeral pomp. So, it was inevitable that people, aware of Meg's active role in the passing of the president, would get around to giving the young Angel of Death a charming nickname: the "Funeral Pump".

Today, if I was reminded of this historical event, it was no doubt because of the news that Dominique Strauss-Kahn would be spending the night at Lille in a police station, where he is being questioned about libertine evenings in a local luxury hotel, the Carlton.

For the moment, he hasn't been charged with any offense whatsoever, but anything could emerge from the intense ongoing investigations. A perspicacious journalist made an interesting observation. Let's suppose that DSK had never become involved with Nafissatou Diallo in a Manhattan hotel, simply because he had decided to leave for France instead of staying in New York. In that case, there would never have been a DSK Affair, and it is highly likely that Strauss-Kahn would have become, as planned, the presidential candidate of the French Socialist Party. Carrying our "what if" scenario one step further, we might conclude that the Lille affair would have still blown up. So, France would have been totally shocked this morning to learn that the popular candidate DSK was being held officially for questioning in a police station in Lille. In these circumstances, it is likely that DSK would have been obliged to abandon his presidential candidacy this evening. So, from a retrospective viewpoint, it was thanks to Nafissatou Diallo in Manhattan that the French Left avoided a catastrophic waste of time, energy and enthusiasm. We lost our illusions in time, well before they caused us to lose ourselves.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vulnerable electoral poster

Nicolas Sarkozy was not particularly prudent in his choice of this calm marine backdrop for his electoral poster, released yesterday.

Really, that vast stretch of calm empty water is an invitation to viewers to imagine ways and means of filling it in. The celebrated Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza [1632-1677] claimed that "Nature abhors a vacuum". In his poster, Sarko has offered us a huge vacuum of water and sky which we all, naturally, start to abhor.

As soon as I saw the poster, yesterday, I started playing around with various possible parodies, and several marine themes jostled in my imagination. I thought about trying to incorporate this delightful image into Sarko's poster, but this composition of an iceberg and a fragile vessel above the ocean depths is narrow and deep, whereas Sarkozy's poster is wide and shallow. So, I abandoned the ship and gave up trying.

For those of us who don't like Sarko, and see his possible reelection as a catastrophe, the first image that springs into mind, to occupy the emptiness in his poster, is the great hull of the Titanic sliding gracefully into the icy waters of the Atlantic.

This theme is reinforced by the recent stupid wreck of the Costa Concordia on the rocky coast of the Mediterranean island of Giglio.

We soon learned that Sarko's photo of the empty sea was in fact a public-domain image of the Aegean. Now, Sarkozy surely regretted the divulgation of this trivial element of information, because the calm waters of Greece are not exactly an ideal symbol, these days, for a European political candidate.

Before the day was out, we heard that France's largest yacht, belonging to the media magnate Stéphane Courbit, had in fact just sunk in the waters of Greece.

And people started to wonder immediately if this were not the same luxurious yacht on which the newly-elected Sarkozy and his current wife had disappeared for a short vacation in the Mediterranean during the days that followed his victory in 2007.

No, it was the same kind of rich owner, and the same bling-bling lifestyle, but not the same boat.

Consequently, this morning, I was delighted to find that a host of excellent parodies had been created during the 24 hours that followed Sarko's presentation of his poster. Click here to see some of them. And here are some others (in which the humor often requires an acquaintance with all kinds of Sarkozian happenings):

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Elegance and responsibility

Those are the lovely words—elegance and responsibility—employed by François Hollande as a reaction concerning the electoral exhortations of his ex-wife, Ségolène Royal, who encouraged her political supporters to give their votes to the leading Socialist candidate, who happens to be her ex-husband.

Marital divorce, despite its inevitable bitterness, should never be the end of the world. On the contrary, I'm convinced that Ségolène's explicit gesture will go a long way towards replacing the tears that overwhelmed her, Sunday evening, when she learned that her former voters had dwindled to a handful.

I've always believed that she's a splendid woman, even though she probably never had the mettle to become a president of the French République. Her courageous gesture in coming out affirmatively in favor of the father of her children is an act that will surely guarantee the endurance of Ségolène Royal on the French political scene… where we'll need, of course, the presence of wonderful women.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Feathers in Sarko's hat

It's a bit scary to see that Nicolas Sarkozy is visiting Libya today, at a weird moment when the ousted dictator Gaddafi still remains at large, apparently protected by a certain number of supporters. But it's easy to understand why Sarkozy finds it a good idea, at this precise moment, to fly in and out of this Mediterranean land.

With the French presidential elections looming, liberated Libya will be a fine feather in Sarko's campaign hat. Besides, images of the visit will no doubt dominate this evening's TV news in France, at exactly the same moment that viewers are getting ready to watch the very first debate between the six candidates for the Socialist primary.

Here are the results of the latest opinion poll, published this morning in the French press:

Incidentally, on the subject of Sarko, it's interesting to discover that the poor man's hair is rapidly turning gray.

That, too, will be a significant asset in the forthcoming presidential campaign. The Socialist favorite François Hollande is some six months older than Sarko, and he has a receding hairline. But I can already visualize the wise old gray-haired Sarko treating Hollande condescendingly as a politically-inexperienced youngster.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

No poll has ever produced a president

François Hollande is behaving correctly when he draws attention to the fact that his current success in voting-opinion polls is no guarantee that he'll be elected as French president next year.

Lots of things could happen between now and May 2012. Hollande himself could make some gigantic blunder… such as getting randy with a nasty hotel maid, for example. But this is unlikely. One of the other Socialist contenders could pull a white rabbit out of his/her hat and achieve stardom. A more plausible scenario: Nicolas Sarkozy could pull off such-and-such a political stunt leading voters to believe (that's to say, those of them who don't believe this already) that bursts of solar radiation are emitted periodically by the president's posterior orifice.

I invite those of my blog readers who understand French to appreciate the following brilliant and convincing discourse of Hollande, today, in the French National Assembly:

We see here a statesman, with a mastery of socio-economic questions, and we sense the presence of a future French president.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Diligent Socialist

To be perfectly honest, I haven't yet actually paid my fees to become a genuine member of the Parti Socialiste, but this will no doubt happen one of these days. Meanwhile, I follow with enthusiasm their activities. Here's a portrait of my preferred presidential candidate, François Hollande.

Intent upon behaving in a politically-correct manner, I invite my readers to click the portrait of my candidate, enabling them to hear and appreciate our party's new hymn, entitled Il est temps (It's time). I'm sorry that I don't seem to be able to offer you a more attractive video version of this rousing anthem, with dancing Socialist girls and guys and all that kind of nice stuff. Meanwhile, I trust that everybody realizes—if ever there were any doubts on this question—that I'm a normal diligent Socialist.

BREAKING NEWS: The Socialist "summer university" has just ended at La Rochelle, on the French Atlantic coast.

As the curtain came down on their convention, the candidates for the forthcoming presidential primary clapped their hands and sung with joy... in unison, of course. Ah, what a pity I wasn't there!

That's what great about being a Socialist in France. It's almost as much fun as being a Boy Scout or a Girl Guide, or a merry member of a Catholic youth movement.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brilliant French lady becomes IMF chief

This afternoon, Christine Lagarde was still in Paris, working at her everyday job as minister of Finance in the government of François Fillon. When a French TV news phoned her concerning the imminent announcement of her appointment as head of the International Monetary Fund [IMF], Lagarde replied with typical elegance that she was hoping that the announcement would be made in time for the evening TV news, so that she would be able to share her limelight with another splendid French woman: the Socialist chief Martine Aubry, who had indicated today that she would be a French presidential candidate. Lagarde's behavior was exemplary in a gentlewomen's spirit, in that Aubry is an opponent of Nicolas Sarkozy, who could be considered (up until today) as Lagarde's superior.

[Click the photo to access an Al-Jazeera video announcing Lagarde's appointment.]

I was surprised and disappointed to learn that my native country, Australia, had backed the Mexican candidate Agustin Carstens for this job. At a moment when the eyes of the world are turned towards the financial problems of Greece, in the context of the European Union, I believe that Australia's choice reflects the political naiveté and lack of economic vision of prime minister Julia Gillard and her advisors.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Damnable opulence

Long ago, when I had just arrived in France and was working with IBM, a French colleague told me a trivial parable that illustrates perfectly a fundamental difference in mentality between the French and Americans. In the USA, when a humble working citizen sees a rich man driving by in a fabulous automobile, he says to himself, inevitably: "What must I do in order to own a vehicle like that?" In France, in a similar situation, the humble working citizen is likely to say to himself: "Why the hell is that son of a bitch parading around in a flashy vehicle instead of driving a cheap old car like the rest of us?" Well, the following banal photo has provided a pretext for demonstrating that this mentality still exists in France, indeed more than ever… no doubt as a reaction to the bling-bling behavior of the present president.

We see Dominique Strauss-Kahn—current president of the IMF [International Monetary Fund]—and his wife Anne Sinclair about to step into a Porsche driven by their friend Ramzi Khiroun. This photo was taken on 28 April 2011 in front of the Parisian residence of the Strauss-Kahn couple, who have been living in Washington over the last three and a half years.

So, what's so exceptional about this photo? It is becoming more and more apparent that DSK (as he's generally called in France) will in fact be stepping down soon from his IMF job in order to become a candidate of the Parti socialiste in next year's French presidential election. And voting-opinion polls have indicated that DSK is highly likely to win. In other words, that left-wing individual seen stepping into a black Porsche could well be the future president of the French République. And that's why many French people have been annoyed by that photo. Why? Well, it's morally wrong for a leftist Frenchman to move around Paris in a luxury automobile! The photo transmits an incoherent message of the way in which a leftist presidential candidate should be behaving. It would have been infinitely better to see the Strauss-Kahn couple (who, in fact, are quite wealthy) catching a cab, or maybe even stepping into the Paris métro.

Political anecdote. During the 1974 presidential election (mentioned in my previous post, about the red Coluche roses), the journalist Françoise Giroud embarrassed Valéry Giscard d'Estaing by asking him if he knew the current price of a métro ticket. He had no idea, in fact, but that didn't prevent him from being elected. On the other hand, his haughty aloofness with respect to the realities of the ordinary people's existence probably played a role in Giscard's defeat in 1981. In any case, ostentatious signs of wealth (particularly when the wealth in question is basically money-based and recently-acquired) can be a handicap for would-be political leaders in France.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We're at war for a while

The "we" is France, and that includes me. I'm proud of the performance of our soldiers, both in Libya and in the Ivory Coast, not to mention Afghanistan. The warfare in which French forces are currently engaged is perfectly real, but I hope it won't last for long.

I'm in no way a supporter of the president Nicolas Sarkozy, for countless negative reasons, and I hope that he'll be defeated by the Socialists in next year's presidential elections. But I'm prepared to acknowledge that Sarko has guided our nation rightly in the two operational theaters I've just mentioned: Libya and the Ivory Coast.

He's a bright and dynamic guy, with the necessary intelligence and know-how to lead France correctly in predicaments of the above-mentioned kind. But the nation needs another more-inspired individual to lead us to the planetary status that modern France merits. And my little finger tells me that the individual in question is waiting patiently in the wings… somewhere in the vicinity of Washington.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Waiting for Sarko

"Nothing to be done."
- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot.

The French president Nicolas Sarkozy is backed up by a political party named UMP: Union pour un mouvement populaire. At the present moment, there is indeed movement in this right-wing political union, which might be termed popular in the etymological sense: "from the people". But it's electoral movement in a downwards direction.

Next week, this party will be conducting a momentous debate on a subject that is so absurdly esoteric (like the much-disputed Byzantine question of the sex of angels) that I'm not even sure how to say it in English. In French, the theme to be debated this week is laïcité, which has the same linguistic roots as our English term "layperson", designating an individual who's not a member of the clergy. So, laïcité might be translated as "religious neutrality". In other words, the spirit of the laïcité concept, in the English-speaking world no less than in France, is that citizens should be allowed to believe whatever they feel like believing in the domains of religion, faith, belief or… atheism. In other words, it's a theme that has been integrated for ages into our various constitutions.

So, why the fucking hell is Sarko's political party organizing a ridiculous debate on this issue? There is no obvious answer to that question… apart from the fact that Sarko's disciples are all in a state of frenzy, because recent regional elections, along with voting-intention polls, indicate that these UMP guys are moving rapidly, in the wake of their tribal chief, towards a hole in the ground labeled EXIT.

I predict that France will wake up in a perplexed state, one of these mornings, and ask: What on earth made us choose that crazy guy, once upon a time, as president of our République? And, through that obvious autocritique, wise France will have become wiser still. I'm an optimist!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

He seems to be a starter

Certain observers expressed their conviction, today, that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has produced firm signals that he intends to be a presidential candidate in 2012. I hope so. I'm convinced that France needs the ideas, outlook and experience of this man.