All The More Reason

Ten Days ’til the First Round
April 11, 2007, 11:16 pm
Filed under: French Presidential Elections

Well, I am certainly not the one to do the expert summary of the French presidential candidates, but I thought it might be interesting to fire off some ideas all the same as the race is heating up.

Firstly, for those that have no clue about France or the French presidential candidates, one might wonder to what purpose it serves to know more about them. Well, Europe itself, and the European Union, is only as strong as its weakest link and different presidential candidates would put different pressures on the EU should they be elected. Secondly, I find France to be a wonderful, if frightening mixture, of old and new ideas. One could even go so far as to say it’s a first–world nation with second–world aspirations. If that’s not fascinating and interesting enough, tant pis.

In 2002, the extreme right candidate Le Pen made it to the second round. Between the first and second rounds there were huge protests of La Honte which effectively functioned as a way of producing a collective shame for a country that would vote a candidate such as he to the second round. As another observer on this blog has already noted, if Le Pen and Sarkozy were to be the second round candidates, it’s not so certain that everybody and their bonne would vote for Sarkozy in a replay of 2002 (in that election, the candidate for the right, Jacques Chirac, benefited from the vote from the left because the consensus was that anyone was better than Le Pen – hence La Honte protests). Indeed, one can see here the rappeur Rost, where he says that he would vote for Le Pen in a situation like that. Well, if that were to happen, be prepared for a whole lot of confused editorials from the Washington Post etc., where they will have great difficulty understanding such a situation!

There are other complexities and turns in the campaign so far. François Bayrou, who hopes to function as the middle or centrist candidate may find himself in a situation where France is still another five years away from really letting go of some of their diehard socialist tendencies. One issue that he has tried to make a part of this campaign is the idea of fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, it hasn’t appeared to catch on. One idea he has is to make it illegal for the government to pass a bill or budget that would put them in debt (I don’t know all the specifics of this). I’m not sure how this kind of law would actually work, nor whether France needs any more laws, but the idea of politicians being responsible for things after their terms is a powerful one. Many western countries have allowed debts to grow in ways that their grandfathers would never have considered.

Jonathan Smith


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