All The More Reason

Knowing one’s place
April 28, 2007, 9:58 pm
Filed under: French Politics, French Presidential Elections

In an interesting move, the first debate after the first round of the french presidential elections has not been between the two winners but between Royal and Bayrou. Bayrou finished third in the first round. I must say that when I read the headline last night on Le Figaro I just thought that I was so tired that my eyes were fooling me. And yet, after verifying this morning, I wasn’t mistaken.

Briefly then, we have two ideas roughly in conflict here. On the one hand, one wants to encourage dialogue and debate. On the other, one also wants to know when to leave the stage to leave the main players their turn. I must say that I heavily lean to the second way of looking at things. Roughly one–fifth of the voters voted for Bayrou in the first round. All of a sudden, this one–fifth holds more power than the very roughly equivalent voters that either voted to the left of Royal or the right of Sarkozy.

Another way of looking at things is that Bayrou’s position was one of a third way. As it turns out, the French didn’t think enough of centrism this time round. Still, one could say that the debate between Sarkozy and Royal would function in a way as an approach to the centre. And yet, with Bayrou staying in the swimming pool long after the other guests have left gives the impression that it’s not centrism which interests Bayrou as much as Bayrouism. From that perspective, I wonder if Bayrou will end up hurting or helping his chances in 2012.

Jonathan Smith


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