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Why the French election matters to all progressives

by Jerome a Paris Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:05:26 AM EST

Tomorrow is the first round of the French presidential election, which will see the two candidates with the most ballots (out of 12) go to the second round in two weeks' time.

First, some background:

Now, if you've been following the French campaign from far away, you've probably heard that this is pretty important election for France, as it supposedly struggles with a stagnant economy, an overbearing State, poorly integrated and riotous Muslims in the suburbs, and a somber mood. A new generation is coming to power, offering a glimmer of hope of "reform" and finally bringing France into the globalised, English-speaking and market-friendly 21st century.

More recently, you've probably sensed disappointment with Ségolène Royal. She had shaken up the Socialist party with her modern campaign style and had created hopes of a "Blairist style modernisation" of the French left (she even had nice words about Tony Blair's policies, never mind that she was praising the fact that the UK has been increasing State spending on education and healthcare, and critical words about the 35-hour week, never mind that it was to criticize it for being too favorable to companies). But alas, pundits noted that her programme, unveiled in February, was actually on the left, something clearly unacceptable; they thus decreed that her campaign was flawed, flailing and failing, and that has been the buzz ever since. François Bayrou, the leader of the center-right and pro-European UDF party stepped into the breach and became seen as the proper "leftwing" alternative to Sarkozy.

Sarkozy himself has been seen as the great big hope "for" France. The New York Times' "straight-talking, America-loving, Israel-favoring son and grandson of immigrants whose electoral acrobatics are most transparently a short-term contrivance" has been described everywhere serious as the man most able to get the French back to work, French diplomacy appropriately friendly to the USA, and Europe to further liberalise as is (or so say the conventional wisdom of these serious people) so sorely needed. As the above wording from the NYT suggests, Sarkozy has not been altogether consistent in his support of reform, and his discourse (and earlier acts while Minister) have a distinct intereventionist and Statist streak, but hey, he's French, what else can one expect form these people - but at least he's not a socialist, let alone an unreconstructed one or the more exotic varieties of extremist lefties that you can find in that sorry country.

Throughout, the dominant theme is that of a country in dire straits, which urgently needs its reformist medecine. As the WSJ puts it, "[t]he recipe isn't complicated: Lower taxes to reduce wage costs, tighten rules government benefits, loosen up employment protection laws, for starters." The story is simple: it needs to lower taxes and wages so that cheaper jobs can be created (for the poor excluded Muslims who otherwise riot and burn cars); If entrepreneurs and profits are no longer taxed, they will no longer need to flee to London or other similar havens of liberty; If France stops its antics, national industrial champions can be killed, reform can take place at the EU level and full liberalisation of all markets can ensure prosperity for all (the haves and the have mores).

Though not perfect (well, what can one expect, he is French, after all), Sarkozy has been branded, through sheer, mindless repetition, as the champion of that painful, but necessary, "reform" agenda, and his victory in this election will be interpreted as the belated acknowledgement of the French that they have to bow to the reality of the globlization and embrace it. It will be seen as a green light for policies focused on profits and on the needs of the rich. Conversely, his loss to Royal (or even to Bayrou) will be seen as a "head in the sand" moment and France will continue to be pilloried for its supposedly sclerotic economic performance.

Now that might not matter too much; after all, we know what the WSJ Op-Ed crowd et al. think of these things, and very little short of total elimination of any tax will ever make them think that the rich (I mean, the economy) are not needlessly oppressed.

But it does matter in terms of perceptions of the inevitability of "reform", and the orientation of EU policies, both internally and externally.

If Sarkozy wins, this will be seen as the knock-out blow to any kind of progressive policies in Europe. The 3 biggest countries of Europe will be invariably described as led by "reformers" (Merkel, because she is from the right wing CDU, despite her lack of enthusiasm for actual "reform", and Blair or Brown because they are the quintessential "reformers" in the eyes of commenters, even if that's a lot more true of their discourse than of their acts); the EU will thus be in a position to liberalise markets that have not yet been so freed, and will be able to conduct a nicely pro-American foreign policy, with 3 designated friends in power. Expect a lot of noise about energy markets (and containment of a resurgent Russia), toughness against Iran and probably China, acceleration of postal and railway liberalisation, attempts to "reform" pensions towards the City (London's Wall Street), and a mini-treaty on EU institutions meant not to be subject to referenda. It will be described the triumph of the right, and of the Atlanticists, and Europe will do nothing to oppose Bush. As to France itself, expect rude attempts to "reform" by Sarkozy, leading to massive demonstrations and strikes, unrest, and a very uncertain outcome.

If Sarkozy loses, the 5 biggest European countries will actually have parties of the left in power. Italy and Spain, with their undoubtedly leftwing governments will suddenly be remembered; people will focus on the fact that the SPD is part of the coalition in power in Germany, and that it is formally a Labor government in power in London. The momentum for "reform" will be very different. I expect that the EU will suddenly try to spend more time on a new version of the Constitution, sticking closely to the version that was rejected in 2005, but adding some sort of social declaration to make it palatable to the French in a new referendum. I also expect a new dynamic as Royal and Zapatero work closely, and, hopefully, bring Prodi and Merkel on board for a new start of the EU. Maybe (one can dream), the Europeans will grow a spine and finally find the needed courage to tell Bush that his insane international policies are, well, insane, and they will stop playing along dutifully. We'll see sour grapes in France, continued hostility to Royal and I imagine an unrelenting focus on her (mostly imagined) "gaffes", but the country will, somehow, mysteriously, not collapse.

I do think that the result matters elsewhere in Europe, as well as in America, as it is a vote, in effect, on the inevitability of "reform" and on the (strangely Hegelian and Marxist) sense that history is on the side of the neoliberals and neocons, with unregulated English-speaking capitalism the (proper and desirable) end of history.

A Sarkozy victory will be spinned as a sign that "even the French get it", and an encouragement to push further; a Royal victory, after the strong message of the 2006 midterm elections in the US, will be (even if it is spinned as denial) a sign that sanity is slowly returning to the world after several crazy years, and that, with adults in charge, we can actually go about tackling the real issues that face us.

Not the war on terror, but global warming and peak oil. Not immigration, but the fair repartition of wealth between the rich and the others. Not geopolitical instability in the Middle East, but the domination over our foreign policies by corporate interests. Not oligopolistic liberalisation of public services, but focus on fairness and the common good.

So yes, I root for Ségolène, and I am optimistic.

I actually think that Sarkozy will get a lower score than everybody expects. My bet is as follows:

24% Royal
21% Le Pen
21% Sarkozy
18% Bayrou
4% Voynet (greens) as the first of the small candidates.

The evening will be ugly.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:11:48 AM EST
My prognostication capacities are not great, and often dominated by wishful thinking...

Here are what the polls say:

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:31:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that there were a few more polls released after I uploaded that graph (damn pollsters and their last minute publishing! And what's up with CSA and IPSOS releasing two polls in the same friggin' day?!), though the difference isn't dramatic: Royal comes in slightly lower, Sarko slightly higher, Bayrou unchanged and Le Pen slightly lower.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 09:23:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sticking by guestimate as well. Mine was:
Royal: 25%
Bayrou: 22%
Sarkozy: 21%
Le Pen: 16%

Yes, thank you, I know it's a bit out there. Feel free to mock and deride me on Monday, when I'll be too busy crying to read it.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:51:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll be rooting for you.
by det on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 10:12:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would result in President Bayrou, I think.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 01:01:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really hope your wishful thinking comes true...

I do think that the result matters elsewhere in Europe, as well as in America, as it is a vote, in effect, on the inevitability of "reform" and on the (strangely Hegelian and Marxist) sense that history is on the side of the neoliberals and neocons, with unregulated English-speaking capitalism the (proper and desirable) end of history.

Yes, yes, yes. I totally agree. Since the formerly socialist nordic countries have caved to the 'market', they started preaching economic liberalism to everyone else, I would hate to see the same from France. Plus, having to endure hearing the neolibs gloat. Come on France! Stay strong! They like to call it 'the sick man of Europe', sometimes I think of it as 'the last hope in Europe'...
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:54:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope you're right, but I fear you're wrong.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:57:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure that one can really hope for a result whereby Le Pen is again in the second round (and would inevitably get a higher score than last time in the second round).

Actually, my sneaking suspicion is that Le Pen and Sarkozy will be incredibly close, but that it will tilt towards Sarkozy by the narrowest of margins in the end, with bitter accusations of fraud thrown around by the National Front. We'll see...

I am quite confident that Royal will come first, though.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 09:16:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about that. Would be fun to watch the neolib press having to hold their nose and support Royal over Le Pen. I think I would enjoy that very much!
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 09:39:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe they won't. They will find "evidence" that Le Pen has "moderated" his discourse and is now "acceptable", like Gianfranco Fini, Joerg Haider, Pia Kjaersgaard or the Kaczinsky twins.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 10:57:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even better! Let the slimy bastards show everyone who they really are. Let them get out there and state that the xenophobic right is better than the left. Who will really buy the "moderation" line? My bet is not enough to get Le Pen the win...
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 12:10:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your comments are giving me flashbacks to 2004.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 02:05:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My bet is more conservative:

24.5% Sarkozy
24% Royal
19% Le Pen
16% Bayrou
6% Besancenot as the first of the small candidates.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 01:05:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
despite all polls, i still do not think Royal will pass the first round.

Sarko :29
Bayrou :23
Royal :22
Lepen :12

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:35:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Factual and cheery as always, eh?  Want to make a bet?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:37:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry but i cannot be really factual, it is just based of  chat i had yesterday with a group a friends at home who are usually leftist (teachers and "cultural" workers) and are not planning to vote Royal but Bayrou.

i was a bit surprised, it is of course only few of my friends but they are usually so predictable that i "think" i can guess a trend here.

It is just a bet but i dont think we are the only ones that cannot stand Royal voice ;-)

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:52:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not surprised. But I think misogyny is prevalent in the European left - at least in my experience.
by citizen k (sansracine yahoo.fr) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:03:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent analysis, Jerome.  Thank you for pointing this out.  There are so few voices in English to explain to Americans, in particular, what is behind this fog of propaganda.  "Progressives" in the US tend to be depressingly provincial and ignorant of international affairs and it has been great to watch the Internet really begin to crack a wall in the run-up to this election.  Your contributions have been huge in that respect.

Stay optimistic, and for the record, I too feel the big surprise will be Sarkozy missing the run-off. Boy will that be a beautiful day indeed.  As the US electorate showed before, everyone prefers the real thing to a cheap knock-off.  If you want to be a cheap knock-off (Sarkozy) you'd best get the real thing (Le Pen) out of the way first.

by paving on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:15:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Thanks for your help to make this, and keep this, visible over there.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:12:29 AM EST
Thanks for rounding all of this up Jerome. It has helped me to understand a lot better.

I'd very much like to see a wider spread of left wing governments in power across Europe. It would make me more hopeful that the British Government would find themselves in a situation where they had to back down on some of the more pro-American, neo-lib tendencies and seek to establish more socially just policies for the UK and Europe.

I know that discourse has taken us a fair way over towards the New Right way of thinking, which with such established capitalist reforms, it would be hard to conceive of a significant swing back to the left, but I can at least hope for some improvement.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:25:20 AM EST
Jerome, I'm afraid your bias is showing in a way as The Economist's often does when you declare that the important issues of our day are "Not the war on terror, but global warming and peak oil. Not immigration, but the fair repartition of wealth between the rich and the others..." without explaining in any way why that is.

I for example believe that terrorism is a very important issue as well. I believe that economic growth matters a great deal, and I'm worried that reforms might be necessary to address certain issues like violence, or an ageing population, or rising health care costs. How sure are you that your "adult" Segolene is more eager to do something about them than Sarko?

by vassilis on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 09:39:37 AM EST
It is because we treat it like it is. If the Americans had treated it as the annoying law enforcement problem it is (like the Europeans have for years), we would not be in the clash of civilisations mindset we are now (and they would not be stuck in Iraq right now, spilling blood, wasting money and destroying the whole concept of the rule of law).

Growth matters, but that will soon be superceded by issues linked to sustainability, resource scarcity and global climate change, and it will need to be defined in new ways - in particular in non-monetary ways.

Call that bias if you will.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 09:50:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Europeans treated terrorism as an annoying law enforcement problem you say. But you mean, as opposed to what, that the Americans have treated it as?
by vassilis on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 10:08:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a pretext to behave bombastically around the world, wage war in the Middle East, and to chip away at civil and legal rights at home. As a way to force people (foreigners or Democrats) to be 'with them or against them.' As a way to assimilate fealty to their boss and loyatly to their country, and to treat lack of support for their policies as treason.  

You know, the "war on terra"

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 10:18:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But isn't most of this post-911?
by vassilis on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 10:21:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No. It's just more overt post-911.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 11:07:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, what were the (covert) actions to "chip away at civil and legal rights at home. As a way to force people (foreigners or Democrats) to be 'with them or against them.' As a way to assimilate fealty to their boss and loyatly to their country, and to treat lack of support for their policies as treason" that America's attitude towards terrorism included in the years prior to 911?
by vassilis on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 11:40:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
9/11 has been overblown.  It is still a minor annoyance, post-911.  Two buildings out of ten thousand.  New York and America prevail against a coupla airplanes, big shocker there.

For the record the Patriot Act and numerous other now-implemented draconian American policies were drafted and chomping at the bit before 9/11.

There is less of a real terrorism problem in the US than there is a "muslim" problem in Paris.  Sure, USA Today might have you believe that the US is overrun with terrorists but it also would have you believe that every resident of a Paris suburb is a dirty, unemployed angry Muslim holy warrior.

by paving on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:24:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To add to your collection of woe-is-France articles in the foreign press...

PARIS -- Guillaume Beaucheron did not become a train engineer because he loved toy trains as a boy. He did it for the good pay, short work hours and early retirement offered by France's state-owned railway company. And now, he says, that is all under threat.

"In the past 20 or 30 years, the government has failed at everything," Beaucheron complained. It has buckled under to European Union rules that jeopardize and delay his retirement, while the Internet and automation have eliminated railway jobs by the day.

And so when he goes to vote in Sunday's French presidential election, said Beaucheron, 36, he'll back a candidate who will fight globalization, protect jobs from encroaching technology and defend his retirement plan, which allows him to quit working at age 56. He declined to specify his candidate choice, citing his powerful labor union's neutral position in the campaign.

"We need change," Beaucheron said, his thinning brown hair tied in a skinny ponytail. "We need to get the country moving -- more jobs, pay raises for everyone."

Beaucheron's demand for change on the one hand, and his absolute fear of it on the other, reflect the country's core ambivalence going into Sunday's election. The three front-running candidates embody this paradox, too. While each campaigns as an agent of change, few people here believe that whoever wins a five-year term in the Elysee Palace will tackle the country's serious ills.

But it's not till the next paragraph that you get to add to your list of verbs & adjectives:

Beset by a stagnant economy, enormous public debt and high unemployment, millions of French citizens fear the demise of the vastly expensive social welfare system that has given them 35-hour workweeks, month-long summer vacations, free health care and liberal retirement benefits.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 09:45:20 AM EST
"stagnant", huh? €50, no more. (I believe it's slightly used).

Now "staggering" or "reeling" might fetch &euro75 or 80.

What price "monolithic" or "Soviet-style"?

If Russia didn't still have it, they'd name Paris Moscow.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 11:03:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There must be some kind of bonus for "beset," though.

How about "beleagured" or "stuttering" or "battered"?  Not extreme enough?  "Embattled"?  "Decrepit"?

I know... "threadbare," sort of like these adjectives.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 12:17:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I've noted in the Klatsch, my phone line has been ripped up and I'm unlikely to have a connection all weekend. I was hoping to follow the elections with you.

Well, no forecasts from me, the polls don't mean much. But I'm obviously backing Royal.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 11:14:47 AM EST
The New Yorker has the funniest cartoons. Some come with no pictures.

Like this one, by Jane Kramer:

France is in trouble. Everyone agrees on that...
The country has stalled. Its growth is minimal. Its protectionist policies are disastrously out of touch with the global reality. Its business... is not competitive. Its fear of the market is endemic.


by Bernard Chazelle (Bernard Chazelle) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 11:30:34 AM EST
Excellent.  What a superb ending!  The voters need to see those last paragraphs.

I have been thinking lately about the dampening effect in Europe, if Sarkozy wins.  Zapatero would be left alone with Prodi, who seems like a left-dud and it would be even more difficult to create leadership in the EU.  

From these lines to voters´ thoughts:  Vote Royal!

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 01:12:06 PM EST
flandersnews.be - French in Belgium ready for election
Sat 21/04/07 - 40,411 French nationals, who live in Belgium, are registered to vote in tomorrow's French presidential elections. The 165, 000-strong French community in Belgium is the second largest group of immigrants in the country after the Italians. Around 85% of the French nationals resident in Belgium live either in Brussels or in Flemish or Walloon Brabant.

Brussels has the third biggest colony of French ex-pats in the world after Geneva and London.
Flemings back Royal

A poll on the VRT's Dutch-language news website vrtnieuws.net about the French elections attracted 4806 respondents on Friday.

49% of those taking part backed the socialist candidate Ségolène Royal.

25% said that if they were allowed to vote in France they would back Nicolas Sarkozy, François Bayrou had the support of 11% of those taking part with the far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen getting just 7%.

2% of those taking part in the poll said they'd back one of the other 8 candidates with 6% saying that they'd abstain, as voting in France is not compulsory.              

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 01:20:29 PM EST
As of Saturday afternoon, there were some very interesting bits of data to chew on.

CSA's final polls on Friday clearly showed Bayrou's support collapsing and breaking towards Royal, as she had -- in both their polls (presumably for different clients?) -- closed the gap in both the first and second rounds with Sarkozy. They also showed a gain for LePen, coming apparently at the expense of Bayrou and Sarkozy.

On the other hand, a poll released Saturday by the the Swiss paper Tribune de Geneve -- though without reporting who had done it, or what method used -- also showed Royal closing the gap on Sarkozy in the first round, but reported a sharp spike in the firmness of Bayrou's support -- and the reporter, again without attribution, suggests that the raw data had Sarkozy, Royal and Bayrou within a single point of each other.

Finally, there's the poll out of a previously unheard of "institute" in Tunisia, released what it claimed to be a tracking poll of rolling, 3-day averages, showing Sarkozy and Royal more or less even (27 - 26) and well ahead of Bayrou -- but Royal well ahead in raw data (27-20 over Sarkozy) and Royal slightly ahead after attempting to adjust (based on what appears to be simply guess work) for a LePen bias, Royal 25, Sarko 22, LePen 21.

Who knows if these are simply made up?

On somewhat firmer ground, we do know (from a very interesting interview on France-Inter earlier this week with the directors of two of the largest polling institutes) that the "redressement" of the raw data which has placed Sarkozy in first for months, is based on presumptions that certain groups (notably Chirac and LePen 02 voters) are under-represented in the raw data (leading to a weighting in favor of LePen and Sakrozy) and that 02 Jospin voters are over-represented (leading to a weighting against Royal). But these presuppositions seem to me not to allow for the obvious response bias against telling a pollster that one actually abstained in 02 and instead telling a pollster one voted for Jospin. So these adjustments might actually over-compensate.

We also know the poll data under-represents younger, urban votes (less likely to have fixed land lines) and under-represents the 3million newly registered voters (nearly 10% of the eligible electorate).

All of this could, could add up to good news for Royal on Sunday night.

Also, of interest, for those who followed the controversy on reporting of exit polls by blogs in the 2004 US presidential election, check out the wry mockery of attempts to prevent this in France on the French blog "NRV".  

Away from polls (or pseudo-polls) I think Royal closed with one of her best weeks in months while Sarkozy literally tried to ride off into the sunset (on a white horse, no less!). For progressive politics in general, I think its important that she make the case strongly for some of the proposals that really could make a difference and which separate her out from Sarkozy -- notably increasing minimum wage, increasing small pensions, creating employment for entry-level workers and not merely cutting taxes wantonly. (The New Yorker story is the first one I've seen in print note that if Sarkozy were actually to cut taxes by 4% of GDP, he'd have to make massive layoffs in the public sector -- not just a hiring freeze.

The reality is that Sarkozy would not be able to make such cuts and would drive up the French debt even higher, with negative consequences for the rest of the Eurozone (and for his friends among US businessmen who are in favor of the weak dollar).

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 06:15:16 PM EST
I have a question for those in France, especially outside Paris. Did anyone see any evidence on Saturday of the UMP's "72 heures pour decider"? Its clear they at least think they have in mind the once-vaunted Republican turnout operation of 04, but this kind of gotv has never been done before in French elections (because no one's ever had the time or resources to compile adequate voter files).

If the UMP has been doing this under the radar, it would mean Sarkozy might perform a few points better than expected.

If its just upper-class kids in blue t-shirts handing out brochures at the market, its not more than a slogan.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 06:19:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to say that Royal has gained in my estimation if only because of the insufferable fatuity of the old line Socialist politicians. If she wins and has the sense to be vindictive and  can make them all unemployed, it will be a grand victory for humanity.
by citizen k (sansracine yahoo.fr) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 11:56:24 PM EST
Yes, she has done quite a number on the "Elephants" and it is rather amusing to watch them grumble.  As if their performance in 2002 should be rewarded any other way!

The most pathetic of all is Besson.  Surely the French will see him for the rat he is?

by paving on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:58:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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