Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More election stuff

Two posts in one day? How lucky are you?

Having indulged at least one of my reader’s thirst for adventure (NB – For the purposes of the blog, “Adventure” is defined as any physical activity that takes me outdoors. Danger need not be a part of adventure, nor novelty) I will now proceed to the deadly serious business of politics.

The second (and final) round of presidential elections are on Sunday. The candidate of the “right,” (such as it is here), Nicholas Sarkozy, is still enjoying the lead. Segolene Royal is still trailing.

It reminds me of Canada, somewhat. “Sego” is doing her best to remind the French that Sarko feasts on foie gras stolen from orphans – hell, made from orphans, just like Stephen Harper's foes accuse him of adopting stray kitten solely for the pleasure of putting them in bags to throw into the Rideau Canal. And, as in Canada, people believe it. But they’re voting for him anyway.

Partially, this is because of a well-documented desire for change. The 35-hour work week and other restrictions on companies are insane, and impose a heavy burden on both companies and job seekers. It also forces the ambitious abroad. I am engaging in a language exchange with a guy here who is learning English specifically so he can leave his contract-to-contract existence and get his highly qualified butt to a country where he can get a permanent job and support his wife and three year old daughter. He’s not alone either. Many of the highly educated and congenitally left-leaning folk we know here want a real change and Sarko is the one promising to do it and nevermind rumours of his habit of terrorizing the countryside during the full moon.

So, Sarko is likely to win it, even though a) no one believes he will actually manage to change anything in the face of the unions and street protests and b) he is very effective at making people think he hates immigrants, muslims and the poor.

The kingmaker in this race is François Bayrou, the “centrist” who came in third. Both Sego and Sarko are prostrating themselves in front of his voters. In a fit of pique or principal (it’s so hard to tell) Bayrou has refused to endorse either.

Jean-Marie LePen, the extreme-right Front National candidate that Sarko was so desperately emulating during the first round has, for his part, called on his voters to boycott the vote entirely. He didn’t try to dress this up as anything but pique however – Sarko had “stolen” his program, leading to his worst showing in decades (10 percent) and didn’t deserve to get in at all.

That embarrassing attempt to remain relevant in the second round probably won’t work. Even if all LePen’s voters got the message through whatever communications network cave-dwellers use, Sarkozy still only needs to pick up 30 percent of Bayrou’s vote to win. Sego, according to the math, needs around 80 percent.

My call? None yet. I’ll wait and see what the Internet tells me.


Travis said...

Okay, that was tolerable.
Do politicians DO anything in France? I know they all say "I make longer work week," and "Me give you all jobs" but I'm looking for a Western democracy where the rhetoric is matched with a small bit of intent. My failure so far is the main reason I don't bother with politics: does it actually matter?

Mark Reynolds said...

No, not as far as I can tell. When they try there's riots. Otherwise, their main activity here seems to be dreaming up national-prestige building projects like libraries that aren't safe to store books in and aircraft carriers that can't leave port.
Keeps them out of real trouble, I guess.