French Regional Elections 2010 – Le Bilan

Posted March 23, 2010 by Jennifer O'Mahony
Categories: Liberal Conspiracy, politics

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France's new look

Sarkozyism is dead. French voters made it very clear this Sunday that any affinity they may once have had with their President is over. He has not made them richer, and he has not made them feel better about their country. With his abrasive personality and divisive insistence on a ‘National Identity Debate’, French voters were seeking someone they could feel less bullied by.

Furthermore, Sarkozy’s arch rival within his own party, Dominique de Villepin, has announced that he is breaking away from the UMP and will lead his own ‘movement’ from June onwards. All the supermodel wives in the world can’t make Sarko look good right now.

As a result of the elections, the Socialists now control 21 out of 22 of France’s departments, having taken Corsica away from Sarkozy’s UMP. However, they didn’t win this campaign through any solid policies or clear-sighted ideological progression. They won because no one can stand the short man in the Elysée Palace. This is clear from the rate of abstention, which stood at 53.6% in the first round and almost 50% in the second. Although stay-at-home voters hit the right harder, the overall disgust with politicians of all stripes in France is all too apparent in this figure.

That said, in politics a victory is a victory, however it is won. The Socialists are now well-placed to establish themselves as a national and international force for the presidential election in 2012. It must be remembered that the Socialists already controlled 20 out of 22 départements before the regional elections, so this result boosts them on a local level while giving them the image of a set of real leaders in advance of 2012.

However, as Laurent Joffrin, journalist for the leftist Liberation newspaper points out, “Everything remains to be done”. The question of leadership remains a gross problem, as Ségolène Royale and Martine Aubry battle to be seen as leader-in-waiting, with Dominique Strauss-Kahn also watching quietly from the wings. Aubry was seen as the most effective player in the regional elections, working in a coalition with green parties such as Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s Europe-Ecologie to maximise votes in some regions, and calling on Sarkozy for a “change of politics”.

The other problem in French politics was the “belle montée” of the Front National. In its heartland, such as the Provence-Alpes-Côte Azur region, the FN polled 23% of the vote. In one town, Orange, parties of the extreme right polled 47% of votes in the first round, of which 36% were for non-FN parties and 11% were for the FN. That may be an exception, but the fascists have been galvanised by Marine Le Pen, the daughter of Jean-Marie, who has injected vigour and a mainstream feel into the FN’s style of politics.

The Socialists will celebrate their success this week, but the combined forces of Villepin, voter apathy, and the FN’s exploitation of white working class problems should not be underestimated as they look ahead to 2012.

You can also read this post on Liberal Conspiracy here.

Hilarious blog by Brits in Barcelona

Posted March 12, 2010 by Jennifer O'Mahony
Categories: Uncategorized

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This is really funny.

Jenny’s School Dinners

Posted March 12, 2010 by Jennifer O'Mahony
Categories: Food

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Left: English pet Right: French school dinner

Enough worthy political articles, I hear you say. What we, your legions of readers, really want to know is what they’re eating. Lo, I provide.

So what are the Frenchies eating? Still frogs’ legs, tripe, and pigs’ feet?, you chortle. Well, yes, actually. They’re mostly consuming the same things they’ve enjoyed for the last few centuries. Overcooked vegetables, a lot of obscure bits of meat, delicious baked goods, and plenty of cheap wine.
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My ‘journée sans immigrés’ post on Liberal Conspiracy

Posted March 10, 2010 by Jennifer O'Mahony
Categories: Orléans, politics

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Observe and comment on my article for Liberal Conspiracy, the best site for the politics of the left on the internet. It was written after the JSI had taken place, as opposed to my post below, which was just before. In the LS article I personally interview the leader of the Orléans protest, Sabrina Kecheroud.

La journée sans immigrés – just what France needs?

Posted February 28, 2010 by Jennifer O'Mahony
Categories: politics

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Peggy Derder, Nadir Dendoune and Nadia Lamarkbi, three French professionals in their thirties, have hit upon the idea of la journée sans immigrés, or the day without immigrants. They are encouraging anyone who is an immigrant, of immigrant origin, or who feels solidarity with immigrants and wants to contest their treatment in France to stay at home and not buy anything for one day.

The idea is to make the rest of France see how different their country would look (and how much less money would be spent in French businesses) if France’s minorities did not exist.
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Further quirks of the French language

Posted February 26, 2010 by Jennifer O'Mahony
Categories: language

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We now return to our regular feature (OK, featured once before) on some of the most entertaining or interesting combinations of words in French. The best part of learning another language is when some phrase or other allows you to say something that cannot be adequately expressed in your own, or when it gives it a better sense. For sensitive readers, this will contain some rude words. (There you go Mum!)

Flowers

comme une fleur – “Like a flower” actually means effortlessly, seemingly without trying.

à fleur de peau – someone who is “sensible à fleur de peau” is extremely sensitive or touchy. The sense is, I think, of having the material of a flower for skin, and therefore very fragile and easy to damage.

faire une fleur à quelqu’un – lit. “do/make a flower for someone” means do them a favour.

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The trouble with Sarkozy

Posted January 29, 2010 by Jennifer O'Mahony
Categories: politics

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Anecdotal evidence suggests no one French voted for Sarko

What is interesting about Sarkozy, or ‘Sarko’ as his name is usually spat, is that you will never find a French person who admits to voting for him.

“Pas moi”, is the usual response, or sometimes “Mais les Français regrettent leur décision”. I tend to think that “Les Français” means “I” in the latter case. However, to admit to liking Sarkozy is about as socially acceptable as being vegetarian. If I ever mention the hated name of Sarkozy in the salle des profs (admittedly a left-wing bunch), people practically hiss, as though there is some kind of bad spirit in the room.

So what’s the problem? Well, Sarko’s outlook is not French at all. He loves business, is fond of money, and thinks that if people want to work hard and become filthy rich as a result they should be able to do so. Essentially, he should have been born British or American.

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