All The More Reason

‘En me regardant dans les yeux…’
April 30, 2007, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal will debate each other, live, for the first time in the campaign this Wednesday. Doubtless, each side will be honing its tactics; will Sarkozy take his usual approach of verbally steamrolling his opponent into submission? Will Royal employ the ‘rope a dope’ strategy and allow him to do so, hoping that the full range of nervous tics and contemptuous skunk eyes will prove his undoing?

Who knows? It will certainly be interesting to see whether the dynamic of the debate will differ on account of the fact that, for the first time, the contest is between a male and a female candidate. The occasion of the head-to-head has led the French National Archive to upload some of the previous French presidential debates to its site. They are extraordinarily macho, almost theatrical, affairs in which, unlike their staid and nauseatingly polite American counterparts, the two opponents eyeball each other across a desk.

My favourite clip so far (and, believe me, I’m working my way through all of them) features Jacques Chirac during his ill-fated attempt to unseat Francois Mitterrand in 1988. There was a post on this site a few days ago about whether France would ever restore its monarchy. Watching Mitterrand after seven years as President gives you about as good an indication as you’re ever going to get of what the roi de nos jours might look like. It also goes some way towards explaining the French public’s baffling attraction to Jacques Chirac. Even though he is a crook, you can’t help but have a sneaking admiration for his showmanship.

Michael P


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