Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
She's a woman, and women have to be twice as good to look as if they're nearly as good.

OK, don't get me started on that one, because the result will be a very long and angry rant.  Grrr.

(OT: I almost exploded over the weekend when I saw this long BBC piece about Obama and Hillary, focused entirely (and I mean for a full 15 minutes, an eternity in tv-time) on just the fact that they are black and female, respectively, to the exclusion of any and all issues of policy or anything else that really matters.  It was all gender and race, as if that had anything to do with competence.)

For some time the big news was all about Ségolène making silly mistakes. She said "bravitude"! Ha-ha-ha! Can you imagine a president who says "bravitude"?

Yeah, this plays into the whole "she's a lightweight" theme, which is honestly only an issue because she's female.  If she were a man with her experience, skills and qualifications, there would be no question of whether she's "serious" enough for the presidency.  It's fucking infuriating.

Sarko, who is an official candidate, is head of the right's biggest party, Interior Minister, and government Number Two. He should be paying a political price for wearing all those hats. Until the last week, no one has been extracting that price. It's as if the Royal campaign and the PS were simply unprepared for what was coming, even though it was very predictable. The right is campaigning as the right does. Get used to it and fight it.

Honestly, this seems to be an epidemic on the left in so many places.  The right, especially when they have been in power, should be held to account for the damage they've done, and for some reason they rarely seem to be.  It does seem to be happening in a few places (Spain, Italy, to some extent the US Congressional elections) but in those cases it seems mainly connected to a specific issue, support for the disastrous Iraq war.  It should not take something so extreme to discredit these people.

There is in fact no cliff-fall. Sarkozy too is falling.

That's interesting.  Is that a normal pattern, for the two top candidates to lose popularity after getting their respective nominations?

Royal's high point was in November '06, at 34%, down to 26% in the latest poll; Sarko's high point was last October at 38%, down to 32% in this poll). But it's all about perception... And the perception is that it's Royal who's slipping... Just a bit more of this, it will become self-feeding.

You're right.  The six-point difference between them, too, would be within the margin of error of most polls.  This brings me to another pet peeve, which is the way that opinion research is generally reported.  (Which is badly.)  This horse-race-reporting stuff is crap enough, but not even interpreting the horse race results properly is just inexcusable.

I guess this is as good place as any to start a full frontal assault on these false perceptions.  But PS and Royal's people are going to have to use the momentum created by revealing their programme to "bounce" and counter this stuff themselves.  If it's getting attention, even aggressive and unfriendly attention, they can and should use that to their advantage.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:20:14 PM EST
the whole "she's a lightweight" theme, which is honestly only an issue because she's female

That's exactly what it's about. Everyone in politics has now agreed it's not nice to say she's a woman so she can't hack it, but everyone knows that's the bottom line in 90%+ of people's basic assumptions, so they play on it that way. What ever will she come up with next, tee hee? I didn't analyse it any further because it fucking infuriates me.

The drop in both candidate's polls may partly be due to the fact that they both imprinted their presence early on as "inevitable" candidates, and now other candidates are beginning to make an entrance, Bayrou in particular (on 13% in this poll) and the new candidate Bové (credited with 4%).

As always, beware of French polls because Le Pen always gets more than his poll numbers. I doubt if he'll get less than 16% in Round One, but he's only given 12% in this poll.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 02:32:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's always an authoritarian wing which wants to elect a thug and a bully - someone who will be 'strong.'

This wing really has no concept of policy beyond the superficial appearance of strength. It doesn't even have to be effective strength. It's purely a PR position.

This is Bush's base, and it's also how he was allowed to get close enough to the winning post in two elections to be handed the White House. But all countries have it - which is why so many people in the UK still look up to Thatcher, because these lunatics loved her for her ability to pick fights and (supposedly) win them.

I think SR has one failing, which is that she doesn't seem to understand this. If she's playing the consensus card, she will have lost those who lean towards this sector, because they're only interested in bullying and braying, not in talking.

Sarko is perfect for them, because he's someone who's more than willing to live up to their expectations. Le Pen has the hardcore cases, but I'd guess there's enough of an element in the swing-vote middle to be influential.

SR could certainly turn this around, but at this point she's reminding me less of Hillary and more of Obama - someone who's on a 'Why can't we all get along?' mission, which appears bland and spineless.

To win back some of the authoritarians she has to take an aggressive stand on something. Almost anything will do - the important part is the meta-message of appearing to be strong and decisive. Actual policy is secondary for these voters.

I'm hoping she can pull this together. But if she really believes that the main reason people will vote for her is because they like her policies, then to be brutally honest I think she's being very naive.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 04:54:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think she does believe that. Indeed, she's been criticised from the left for looking after her image more than her programme.

Over the first months, she was opposing a stern-maternal (some might say school-ma'amish) image to Sarko's tough cop one. With considerable success. But he has now redefined his image as softer, more supposedly "leftie". It's up to Royal to find the response to that, no doubt by bouncing off next weekend's agenda (programme announce, etc). I think it does matter that her programme, after a long period of "listening" to the French in meetings all round the country, should measure up and feel like the product of real listening. Her image will partly be defined by that.

There'll no doubt be more movement. It'll be a running fight.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 5th, 2007 at 05:06:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series