Thursday, April 19, 2007

French Presidential Election

The first round of the French presidential election takes place on Sunday. At this point in the polling, it appears that rightwing Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Ségolène Royal will compete in a run-off round. This situation favors Sarkozy. Center-right candidate Francois Bayrou had a shot, but might be fading, although he could very well beat Sarkozy in the second round if he went through. Other candidates are far behind. But there are still a lot of undecideds in the polls.

But take a look at this pointless article on Sarkozy in the Washington Post. What is this supposed to say? That everyone, including the French, just wants to be like Americans?... Sarkozy is pro-American? Well, he is. So what. He's also considered a very dangerous man by many on the very large left in France, as Sarkozy appeals to the Le Pen right and anti-immigration sentiment.

The WaPo piece is basically a set-up. Without saying much of anything about his politics, the authors of the piece go on and on about how Sarkozy likes American movies, the American rugged individual myth, and so on. The extent of the portrayal of criticism against Sarkozy is that the left doesn't like him.

Geez. It's bad enough that the government and the major media generally flaunt a pompous ignorance about Middle Eastern, Latin American, African, and Asian countries. But France?

Good English discussions of the election are difficult to come by. Here's a place to start in looking at the election, with links to the major French dailies. Charles Kupchan has a few things to say here. Live-blogging of the election will happen here at République des blogs.

And Kupchan again on the French dilemma:
A center-left voter is today having to make a very difficult judgment. If they vote for their preferred candidate, Ségolène Royal, and the polls are indicative of the first round, then Royal and Sarkozy go through to round two. If that happens, it’s very likely Sarkozy will win. If the Royal voters instead were to vote for Bayrou, and Bayrou went through to the second round instead of Ségolène Royal, he’s the next president.

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