Posted tagged ‘Sarkozy’

French Regional Elections 2010 – Le Bilan

March 23, 2010

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.


The trouble with Sarkozy

January 29, 2010

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.


Sundays in France: Remember Britain circa 1950? No? Good for you.

November 1, 2009

France is a first world country. The French have a stable economy, a great transport system, a rich political and cultural history, and a great range of landscapes and climates. In essence, they’re doing well for themselves. I am clearly not going to confuse my adopted country with, say, Sudan.

And yet, out here in the provinces, come Sunday, you might think you were living in a much earlier era, when people ate at home and prayed at church, and that was the sum activity of the final day of their weekend. It’s still not Sudan, granted, but here in Orléans the streets are completely deserted. A mournful wind blows rubbish round the statue of Joan of Arc in the main square. The supermarkets, shops, and market stalls are all shut, as well as the majority of bars, cafés and restaurants. My corner shop claims to be open between 9h30 and 12h30 on a Sunday, but as I attempted to forage for food this morning it was ostentatiously closed. Maybe the pretence of the horaires was enough for them, but frankly my stomach disagreed.