France: The Sarko vs. Ségo Prism

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[Thanks to Alexandre Enkerli for pitching this show. It will record at 5:00 pm Eastern to accomodate overseas guests.]

The wild first round of French presidential elections is over, and the shaggy 12 candidates have been whittled down to a slim two. It’s a classic battle of left and right now, with the conservative interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy going head to head against the Socialist Ségolène Royal, president of the Poitou-Charentes region in Central France.

If there was a consensus among the 12 candidates in the first round it was negative: there’s more pessimism about France’s role in the world today and her future prospects for the future than we’ve seen in a long, long time. Of course, that’s where the consensus ends. Just what should be done to rescue France’s battered economy, social fabric, and self-identity is completely up for debate.

And it’s a fascinating debate. So what can we learn about France through the prism of the Sarko v. Ségo race? Is it possible to imagine a Clinton-Blairesque “third way” in this clearly demarcated country that invented the cardinal directions of left and right? (Or did that third way, represented by François Bayrou, already fail?) How sustainable is the French welfare state? Were the flaming banlieues two summers ago an isolated skirmish or a taste of future unrest? What stance will France take with respect to the U.S.? The E.U.? Her own identity?

What pictures of France do you see in this contest?

Christine Ockrent

Journalist

Anchor and Producer, France Europe Express

Jerome Guillet

Blogger, Jerome a Paris of the European Tribune

Paris-based energy banker

Patrick Belton

Blogger, Oxblog

Extra Credit Reading

Débat Ségolène Royal – Nicolas Sarkozy : partie 1

Elaine Sciolino, Candidates Spar Vigorously as French Vote Nears, The New York Times, May 3, 2007: “By midway, Ms. Royal’s perpetual smile disappeared from her face. Their tone was reminiscent of a couple bickering at the breakfast table, with the husband barely restraining his sense of superiority and the wife attacking him for not listening to her.”

Jennifer Brea, The French Presidential Election: A View From Outside the Metropole, Global Voices, April 26, 2007: “Here’s a view of the election from outside the metropole — voters in overseas French departments, interested bloggers in former French colonies, and the growing ranks of hyphenated French.”

Jerome Guillet, Why the French election matters to all progressives, European Tribune, April 21, 2007: “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.”

Simon Dickson, Video in the French election, I’m Simon Dickson, April 24, 2007: “I thought I’d glance at what les candidats en France were up to. And blimey – Nicolas Sarkozy really digs the 2.0 thing. His campaign slogan – ‘together everything becomes possible’ – is, of course, tailor-made for the whole collaborative online thing, but even so, it’s quite startling to see him embrace it quite so fervently.”

Catholicgauze, French Presidential Election Round 1 is Over, Geographic Travels with Catholicgauze!, April 23, 2007: “The geography of the election is along similar lines of previous elections. The east and north parts of France vote conservative while the southwest, the west, and Paris go Socialist.”

French Election: What Sarkozy and Royal Stand For, The Tocqueville Connection, April 30, 2007: “Here are the key proposals of the rightwing Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Segolene Royal.”

Good blog for French election beginners: French Élection 2007


  • hurley

    I have two French people staying with me now, mother and adult daughter, white, upper-middle-class, non-church going Catholics — friends both. Who are you going to vote for? Sarko, bien sur. Ask them why and you get the usual nosegay of ressentiments: the banlieues, the 35-hour work week (the brainchild of the Protestant Jospin), etc. Neither live in the banlieus, and both have the luxury of being able to work at their leisure, one as a translator, the other as an illustrator. Both of these are often freelance professions that come with a certain amount of economic risk, risk that the French model in its conception of the social contract does what it can to mitigate via a sort of Social Security for actors, artists, etc. It works well. Still they railed against the iniquities of the French welfare system, as if the burden of the supposedly wretched state of affairs fell to them, vacationing in Rome…

    Sarko strikes me as a dangerous fellow, playing to fears rather than to plausible hopes. He’s blind ambition, pur et dure. Royal has made a botch of her campaign so far, and has little but the party machine and her pretty face to thank for her current standing. But she’s the best hope France has right now. Cross your fingers.

  • studentexpat

    I am so excited for this program! I have no doubt that it will be rife with knowledgeable guests who will offer insight into the French elections, which are finishing with the second round of voting this Sunday. I feel that the American media has ignored this imperative turning of power.

    However, one thing bothers me: Why is everyone so obsessed with calling Ms. Royal by an abbreviated form of her first name, as if she were an intimate friend?! Yes, it rhymes and who doesn’t like a catchy pair of nicknames, but this is France’s omnipresent tendency to sexism at its best. As an American student at the University of Paris, I have observed the French press and, with the exception of a few publications that support Mme. Royal, the blatant disrespect for this accomplished woman is astonishing. She is the first woman in France’s history to place in the second round of the elections! Mme. Royal earned 26% of the vote in France, only 4% behind M. Sarkozy, which is a huge feat.

    Referring to M. Sarkozy as “Sarko” does not make it even! It’s part of his last name, and that is clearly more respectful than the nickname the French press employs to represent Mme. Royal, which has been adopted by the public. So, unless we are willing to refer to M. Sarkozy as “Nico,” let’s appropriately recognize Mme. Royal as a force in the French elections who is currently sparring her way to the Elysees.

  • http://enkerli.wordpress.com/ Alexandre Enkerli

    Glad you’re picking this up. The francophone blogosphere is full of comments on the elections.

  • Greta

    hurley, I haven’t been following the elections story too closely — how has Mme. Royal made such a botch of her campaign?

    Alexandre Enkerli, can you recommend specific francophone blogs and bloggers to consult for this show? Sam and I would love the help.

  • Pingback: » Blog Archive » France: The Sarko vs. Ségo Prism

  • plnelson

    But she’s the best hope France has right now. Cross your fingers.

    Mme Royal promises only more of the what has paralyzed France for decades. Central planning, an entrenched bureaucracy, socialism, a paternalistic welfare state.

    France needs JOBS for its young people – not only the poor Islamic youth but for the ordinary white middle-class kids. Poll after poll shows that the young people and kids of France have no confidence in the future, nothing to look forward to.

    But where do new jobs come from? From entrepreneurs! This is a French word with almost no French usage. New companies are not being created in France; old companies are not expanding; and jobs are disappearing to China or to the eastern parts of the EU.

    French leftists like Royal are desperately afraid of copying the “Anglo American” model which they see as too dog-eat-dog, too competitive, too materialistic. But they offer no alternatives and France slowly sinks into international irrelevancy. France needs to change and Sarkozy offers at least a bit of real change and challenge. Royal offers only a continuation of what hasn’t been working for a long time.

  • hurley

    Pinelson: No endorsement per se of Royal beyond a weather eye at the alternative. I should have written: Cross your fingers, either way. In other words, Geronimo…

  • http://metaverseterritories.com kliger

    This is the most tormenting political situation I have ever found myself in the midst of: there is nothing clear cut nor simple about understanding, no less choosing who to vote for. As an American-raised, French resident with dual citizenship, the subtle but fatal cultural differences between my liberal east coast upbringing & the realities of contemporary French society, whether seen from the right, center or left, have left me surprisingly unprepared for the choices I have to make.

    For the first time in my voting life (I’ve voted in every American & French election that I’ve been eligible for since voting for Carter x2) I was actually undecided –only after spending a literally restless night, then engaging a thorough re-reading all pertinent articles in the numerous « Le Monde’s » that I had left accumulate in my apartment for just this reason, did I leave for the polling station with a clear idea of whom to vote for. I’m clear-headed but open, principled but not dogmatic –and that’s were my problems began.

    As for the second round: a) I’m undecided only because the ambiguities between the candidates’ stances on the issues vs. their strategies to attract votes beyond their traditional electorate, has totally blown this thing wide open; and b) I’m not necessarily going to vote for the candidate I voted for in the 1st round.

  • patsyb

    On the French election, be sure to read Isabelle de Courtivron’s 4/29/07 op-ed in the Boston Globe — especially if Ockrent is on the air with Chris. Ockrent is a formidable presence on TV and a woman of considerable power in Paris. She has earned every bit of it and for decades now. I hope ROS will bestow on Segolene Royal the same respect it will predictably show Ockrent, for she is no less an accomplished woman, having achieved political prominence against many French, sexist, and political odds. I’m looking forward to this conversation.

  • tbrucia

    It’s interesting how much press France and its politics gets in the USA, and how little Spain, Italy and Germany get… There’s a hierarchy of American interest, Britain at the top, then France, then Germany, then Italy, then Spain, then Poland, etc, etc. I don’t think many Americans think consciously about this (mostly unconscious) ranking, but maybe this is a good place to point out its existence.

  • nikolrb

    For me the most troubling aspect of this campagin has been the eerie nationalism playing on both the left and right. With the European Union, immigration issues, etc. France has been struggling to preserve its identity, which so many are also struggling to define. The definition it seems is a sketch of the past, before major immigration and before the face of France changed.

    I was in Paris when LePen, the nationalist and honestly racist candidate made it to the final run-off. It was a scary moment. But what is scarier is that both candidates are adopting echoes of that race.

    Of course I say all this from a distance this time, from news reports and commentary, I lack the inside view I had the fortune of having last time, but nonetheless it looks omnious from here.

  • plnelson

    nikolrb says For me the most troubling aspect of this campagin has been the eerie nationalism playing on both the left and right.

    . . .

    but nonetheless it looks omnious from here.

    I’m not sure why you think it’s ominous. In this globalized world is every country supposed to be just like every other country?

    France has always had a unique identity and outlook and it really is under threat by all the forces you mention. Are they, to paraphrase Lady Hillingdon, supposed to just “lie back and think of England” (or, more likely the United States, China, Algeria, or McDonalds)? I have no problem, in principle, with the French (or British or anyone else) deciding for themselves what sort of a society they want to have. With regard to immigrants, lately France has had a major problem with immigrants coming to France and then trying to impose their values on the French. Recently the Wall Street Journal reported on one town in France where local Muslims demanded of the city government that the public swimming pool be restricted to only one gender at a time!

  • rc21

    Maybe as the muslim population in France increases we will have to look at Frances national identity in a different light.

    We may some day see the muslim values become Frances values.

    Some one might want to think about printing up a new swimming pool schedule.

  • http://www.gitano.org evaskor

    France has been struggling for the last decades with inability to establish coherent immigration policies, confused economic programs, loss of prestige overseas. Consequences were obvious during the last presidential elections and the extreme right defeating the Socialist party in the first round, then the reject of the European Constitution at the 2005 referendum, and the social riots, and urban violence.

    These elections reflect the desire of change for French people. The turn out for the first round reached a record high (it is also a reaction to the shock of the 2002 elections to have seen Mr. Le Pen in the second round – mainly due to high a low participation rate!); candidates (the last two) represent ‘new generation’ and even a new phase in French society as a woman and the son of an immigrant could pretend to be elected!

    At the same time, French people have fallen into an apathy and a state of assisted and expecting the government to take all issues in charge. It is a feeling very deep at all levels of the society – France has one of the highest rate people suffering from depression (despite 35 hours work week, 5 weeks of vacations, social assistance of al kind!!) … It seems Mr. Sakozy has understood the crisis and , his position addresses better the expectation of the majority of French people – although his methods are critized (?!).

    He does have a sensible economic understanding and realistic propositions – (although trying to make people ‘want/like to work’ is a daring challenge!… ) ; and there will always be unions and privileged public sector employees that will oppose any changes (why would they??) – so expect major strikes if he is elected (probably around end of May, before the legislative elections in May).

    If Ms Royal is elected, expect much of France continuing in its downward trend;( Hopefully Europe can help??

  • David Weinstein

    AS a former ex-pat who lived in France, and still a francophile, I believe that the fault lays with the left in this country. For whatever reason, the French has not been able to create a center left as history is asking for it to do now. Remeber that Bayreux is center right. I wouldn’t dare suggest tht France adopt “le modele anglo-saxon,” a la Tony Blair. But the left must find a French way to craete a center left that somehow balances humanist values, workers and human rights along with the absolute necessity to create jobs by encouraging entrepreneurship.

    Before WWII France had quite an entrepreneurial ethos and history. Think of what the company the engineer Citroen created, the Lumiere brothers, the advances in science and technology that France made. I think that will and ethos is still there, and very strong among the youth, and yes, even the immigrants. But the structures must be put in place for this ethos to blossom again.

    I too think that Sarkozy, with his slick appeal to some of the baser instincts of the French public, his playing of fear and security is a very dangerous fellow with distinct anti-democratic impulses — le petit Bush. One Bush is enough for the world, thank you.

    As an old French hand, I think that if Sarko is elected, he will be thrown out after one term or before and replaced by either a center right or center left coalition. Right now it looks like Bayreux’s new party will fill the void on the center right. I’d prefer to see a center left coalition govern France. But we’ll have to see if there is a leader who can rally the people around such a program or if the French people themseles wake up and demand such leadership.

    If France does crete a new center-left, I think it will rise to the world authority and example it so much laments losing — and the world would be better for it.

  • David Weinstein

    ps. – heads-up re: Sarko’s anti-democratic instincts, the French alternative media and the Gallic blogosphere has been expsoing and discussing the possibilty of “le zapping” of e-voting in the upcoming election. Sarkozy apparently was repsonsible for implementing t he new French e-voting system while minister of the interior. Sound familiar?

    Sarko to Bush and Rove: “Tell me how you did it”

    Bush: “God decides elections.”

    Here’s a link with a nice ‘reportage.’

    Objet : Zapping…

    A voir sur le lien ci dessous, s’il ne marche pas directement, le recopier et le coller dans votre navigateur

    “à faire tourner rapidement car elle va bientôt être interdite…”

    http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/4UrTuY67yh3y31nL2

    —————————————————————————————

  • pryoung

    Americans tend often to be unable to talk about France without talking—implicitly or explicitly—about themselves, and some of the comments here suggest that tendency. It’s not necessarily a misguided thing, as the two countries really have been intertwined in many interesting ways over the past 200 or so years. But it can lead at times to projection and confusion.

    David Weinstein, for example, reads onto France a dynamic pre-1945 business class and entrepreneurial ethos that has somehow gone into hiding. In fact, the French patronat was on the whole notoriously conservative in its business dealings well into the 1930′s, not unlike the small-holding French peasantry and edgy urban lower middle class of shopkeepers. France’s most dynamic economic growth came in the period 1945-1975 (known in France as the “Thirty Glorious Years”), when the state really led the way toward nearly uninterrupted annual growth of 5-6%. Yes, it was statism—nationalized industry, state planning, expanded national education, welfare state Keynesianism—that propelled spectacular French economic growth. In this, France was no different from Germany, Japan and the other Pacific Rim countries, contemporary China, or even to a lesser extent the post-war US.

    I would argee with others here that France has had tremendous difficulty adjusting to the post-1975, post-Keynesian global order. How could one argue otherwise? And I would be the last person in the world to suggest that France’s statist traditions haven’t often stifled needed economic innovation, or political or cultural innovation for that matter.

    But this very American affirmation of neo-liberal pieties in any and all discussions of France seems often self-serving and deluded to me in its sanguine and triumphalist view of globalization. What kind of society has neo-liberal “shock therapy” produced in Russia? What about Latin America, where the neo-liberalism of the 1990′s has given way to left wing (and sometimes demagogic) populist regimes across the continent? What about the continuing growth of fundamentalisms of all sorts, which are partly movements of protest against the impact of globalization?

    The French famously like to see themselves as canaries in the coal mine, giving voice to broadly shared concerns in the face of seemingly fixed realities. They are by no means as convinced of the inevitable triumph of neo-liberal globalization as Americans tend to be, and I’m not entirely convinced they are wrong in that.

  • pryoung

    And RC21 wins the Jean-Marie Le Pen prize for political rhetoric with this phrase:

    “We may some day see the muslim values become Frances values.”

    It is of course wholly possible to have “Muslim values” (whatever those are exactly) and “French values” simultaneously, as many French citizens actually do. That France has not been able as a nation to reconcile those identities is one of its great current failings.

    But really, substitute the word “Jewish” for “muslim” in the above line, and you would have phraseology that was fully at home in far right circles in the 1930′s, or in the 1890′s during the Dreyfus Affair. People of good conscience in France rally against such rhetoric today because they are aware of its fascist lineage, from Dreyfus through Vichy to LePen. That Sarko panders to it for votes is fully indicative of the right’s political courage.

  • http://www.rockisland.com/~pmcrae/index.html peggysue

    She’s the best hope France has right now. Cross your fingers.

    My fingers are crossed. The more female socialists in power worldwide the better.

  • hurley

    Chapeau (x) to tbrucia and pryoung.

  • http://www.gitano.org evaskor

    These analysis are all very interesting, but reflect little the reality French people face.

    The cost of living is one of the highest ever recorded, little oppportunity for young graduates (or as such experienced, valuable and productive professionals – some explanation of why qualified workers have left France!!); excessive tax burden for enterpreneurs and small businesses (before you can even start a business, in addition to the time consumming process you need to pay 7000 euros in taxes in advance of potential revenue…).

    If at all you are involved in the workforce , close to 30% of your monthly salary goes into taxes (social security tax, solidarity tax, special social tax, welfare contrinution tax… you name it) – note, employers pay that much too for each paycheck issued, and retired workers are taxed too on what they do not produce anymore!!!

    Would anyone in the U.S. accept that?????????

    OK, France is supposed to have a great social net – free health care, education, family benefits, unemployment benefits…. That is NOT true ANYMORE. If you want a decent health coverage, you definitively need to buy an additional private insurance (Note : if you have an medical emergency, hope it is not on Sunday as less than minimum service if offered that day… not talking about strike days).

    Actually you may still benefit from social system if you do not work – you can average 700-1000 euros/month of RMI (Minimum welfare allocated to assist you to find work) + housing allocation + full dental and health coverage … If you start working you may get an average of 1400-1500 euros/months and pay taxes. Here is an explanation of the high unemplyment rate – as Ms. Royal said ‘…People do not work because there are too many unemployed…” (???!! Socialist economic logic!).

    Social and immigration issues simply reflect the economic tensions the system has built on. I do not believe in French people becoming socially extreme and racists; but it is sure they are fed up and definitively need strong and consistent policies and actions. I absolutly do not believe and see how Mr. Sarkozy can be considered as dangerous, extremist, and scary!! In ligth of the reality France faces, he does represent an reinsuring figure and someone who understands what the challenges are. And no risk to be compared to G. Bush nor to be another US muppet: he is too smart and has very strong French ideals to fall into the anglo-saxon model.

  • Garuffo

    pryoung put it right about the “J-M Le Pen prize”. That’s how he fosters anger and hatred between french citizens from different cultural backgrounds.

    pnelson said “New companies are not being created in France; old companies are not expanding; and jobs are disappearing to China or to the eastern parts of the EU.” And I found it quite simplistic. First, French people create a lot of small entreprises and second, the big old companies are doing really, really good on an international scale.

    So, who’s the (wo)man for we, french people? The Economist endorsed Sarkozy, showing him in a Napoleon outfit heading for victory in Austerlitz, I think they are wrong. The truth is that France doesn’t need a new “emperor”, France is a democracy in need of a stronger legislative branch and of more debates. What’s stunning is that the candidate who promotes the “rupture” is, in the end, a srong conservative with whom it is hard to imagine that iniqualities will decrease. On the other hand there is Royal, promoting a brand new socialism where individualism are responsible (from the craftman to the CEO), where you’re given aid if you help the society in return (that’s Royal’s gimmick “donnant, donnant; gagnant, gagnant”), where public services must be support for the whole country, where the aid towards green-industry is really part of the project and where the president is not a Deus Ex Machina but has to give the impetus to the nation, draw a society project which WE, the citizens, have to aim at.

    Yes, the truth is that while the right-wing candidate is saying that he will solve everything by beeing a hard-liner, the socialist candidate is saying “hey, it’s up to you; I wanna build a new framework but then it’s for YOU to contribute for a better live-together”. When socialism meets light-minded individualism… So who’s got the most forward-looking project?

    Believe me, I saw the two candidates in big meetings, while Sarkozy is nationalist, conservative and promises a harsh society, Royal is humanistic (Sarkozy really lacks this quality), believes in individuals helped by a State to make them able to start with the same chances and is a rallying-person. She is not “just beautiful”, she have showed great qualities to be there today.

    Yesterday, during the debate between the two candidates she became (really) upset because Sarkozy said that he would do everything for handicapped children while the gouvernment he used to belong to dashed an important policy framed by Royal (Handiscol) a few years ago (while she was in the government of Jospin). Sarkozy accused her of “losing her nerves” and then she had a very smart and beautiful answer: “I’m not loosing my nerves but I have kept my rebellious capacity unimpaired” (“Je ne perd pas mes nerfs, mais j’ai gardé ma capacité de révolte intacte”). She deserves the presidency. Time for us to hope? No, time for us to vote!

    And, hey, forgive my English, I’m French. ;^)

  • http://www.gitano.org evaskor

    To Garuffo; could you explain me where/when Ms Royal promotes

    ” … individualism are responsible …” It seems to me she wants to increase public services and increase state assistance! Great for enabling responsibility!

    The state has been assisting for more than 20 years – where did the responsibity go?

    “…The right-wing candidate, is saying that he will solve everything by beeing a hard-liner, the socialist candidate is saying “hey, it’s up to you; I wanna build a new framework but then it’s for YOU to contribute for a better live-together”….”

    Huummm, did not you mixed up names???

    Obvioulsy we did not watch the same debate!!

    But no big deal, everyone candidate always wins;))

    Bon vote!

  • Garuffo

    evaskor> When Royal promotes debates between “les partenaires sociaux” she argues that it’s not for the President to decide about how to deal with “les 35 heures”. Sarkozy is for individualism, indeed, but in the same way has have always been the UMP since he is at its head. He has no plan to solve iniqualities, no plan to build a new framework in which meritocracy could work again. His package is the “good old widen the gap thing”. Do you recall this sentence “I want to make France a country of entrepreneurs”. It was Royal’s yesterday evening. She’s not in the “assistanat” as you put it but just consider that we need a coherent and good social framework for people to be equal at start. This is not “egalitarianism” but the basis for, again, a fair meritocracy. That’s also what Le Monde’s chief editor seems to think in his last column. It’s not about more or less state it’s all about a fair state for a fair society.

  • plnelson

    But this very American affirmation of neo-liberal pieties in any and all discussions of France seems often self-serving and deluded to me in its sanguine and triumphalist view of globalization.

    I think that’s simplistic. As I said in my comments, above, “French leftists like Royal are desperately afraid of copying the “Anglo American” model which they see as too dog-eat-dog, too competitive, too materialistic. But they offer no alternatives “

    They are under no obligation to adopt the Anglo-American model, but they are under an obligation to choose SOME successful model, or develop a unique one of their own, and the world is not exactly awash in successful alternatives to the neo-liberal economic model for modern post-industrial democracies, especially for countries as large and ethnically diverse as France.

    “Business as usual” for France, just like “staying the course in Iraq” for the US, is not a practical option. Something has to change.

  • plnelson

    But really, substitute the word “Jewish” for “muslim” in the above line, and you would have phraseology that was fully at home in far right circles in the 1930’s, or in the 1890’s during the Dreyfus Affair.

    This is incorrect.

    A major difference is that the Jews never tried to impose their values on the larger French society or receive any equivalent of affirmative action, as both Sarkozy and Royal advocate. As a group they never became a problem for the state or society – I am unaware of any equivalent to the recent large-scale rioting in the Muslim ghettos. Furthermore, the Jews never created a huge underclass of impoverished, violent, alienated young men – the Jewish community in France always managed to give its young people a sense of meaning and identity despite poverty and antisemitism.

  • plnelson

    pnelson said “New companies are not being created in France; old companies are not expanding; and jobs are disappearing to China or to the eastern parts of the EU.” And I found it quite simplistic. First, French people create a lot of small entreprises and second, the big old companies are doing really, really good on an international scale.

    Yes, the companies are doing well, but they aren’t HIRING anyone in France! Do you deny that France is failing to create jobs or provide an employment future for their young people?

  • katemcshane

    This was nice. I have to listen to the interview in its entirety tomorrow, because I’ve been getting home later this week. I loved Jerome Guillet. France has been looking better and better to me, since living with Bush. In the last several years, I’ve found myself wishing that I had the money to move to France — I love the way they take to the streets — but I felt stupid, because I don’t even speak French. (And I guess I SHOULD feel stupid.) Before Bush, I read about artists (writers, painters, jazz musicians) moving to France from the U. S., but I thought of it as a thing people could do if they had money, so it became a “class” thing — people with money could move to Paris, so this had nothing to do with my life. I didn’t pay much attention to them. Since Bush, I began to think of it as a place where you weren’t pressured by the culture to be an android. I heard only the second half of the interview and it was wonderful.

  • ikatae

    My sentiments exactly katemcshane! As far as the debate – I feel that Royal prevailed. I feel she showed the passion and conviction that didn’t match his rhetoric. The world needs much less testosterone now and more conviction!

  • pryoung

    No, plnelson, you’re misreading the point of my post in order to make your own point about “which is the better minority”. That’s not so helpful in my view.

    It’s revealing that you see the recent riots as being somehow about Islam and “the Muslim ghettoes”, when in fact there was no suggestion whatsoever of religiosity in the events. Indeed, the Islamic authorities in France condemned them quite openly. The riots were about economic marginality and social-cultural dislocation, and were carried out by kids wearing designer names and aping gangsta gestures.

    You don’t consider the role of race, or of France’s imperial past (particularly brutal and unresolved in the case of North Africa) in creating hostile circumstances for the Muslim minority. Nor do you consider the erosion of France’s industrial base since the 1970′s, and with it the jobs (and unions) that used to provide a foothold into French society for earlier generations of immigrants. Nor the geographic isolation of the post-war banlieux (suburbs) and their carceral concrete housing projects, which further reinforce the separation of the minority population from the rest of the society.

    No, it must be all about Islam and its cultural deficiencies. Do you actually believe it is Islam which has created “a huge underclass of impoverished, violent, alienated young men”?

    The American “clash of civilizations” imaginary may be close at hand, but it’s a rather crude instrument for understanding a more complicated historical reality.

  • pryoung

    I always find these suggestions of France being currently “in a funk” funny, because I have trouble imagining a time when there hasn’t been some form of fretting over French decline, malaise or stasis in the country ever since the Prussians handed them their asses in the war of 1870-1. It’s really become a part of the national character to engage in this kind of navel-gazing, for better or worse.

    The danger is that a certain group might come to crystallize those worries, and that ambitious political figures might turn that group into “all that threatens us” or threatens some supposedly agreed-upon and stable notion of Frenchness. America has often served that function, and still does today obviously. French Jews and now Muslims have also, to the far graver detriment of the country.

    It would be nice not to see this syndrome playing itself out again and again, though Sarko plays exactly to that sense of embattled Frenchness in his law and order rhetoric. It just does not serve France well retreat into this current of its history.

  • plnelson

    You don’t consider the role of race, or of France’s imperial past (particularly brutal and unresolved in the case of North Africa) in creating hostile circumstances for the Muslim minority. Nor do you consider the erosion of France’s industrial base since the 1970’s, and with it the jobs (and unions) that used to provide a foothold into French society for earlier generations of immigrants. Nor the geographic isolation of the post-war banlieux (suburbs) and their carceral concrete housing projects, which further reinforce the separation of the minority population from the rest of the society.

    No, it must be all about Islam and its cultural deficiencies. Do you actually believe it is Islam which has created “a huge underclass of impoverished, violent, alienated young men”?

    But the historical treatment of Europe’s Jews, their isolation, their confinement to ghettoes and shtetls was certainly worse than anything the residents of the banlieux experience. Yet they didn’t respond with riots and violence.

    I don’t think we can ignore the role of culture in this. If you are unemployed and have lots of time on your hands how do you decide whether to pick up a book or a rock? How do you decide whether to join a gang or organize politically? Where do people get their values and identity if not from their religion and culture and what their parents teach them?

  • plnelson

    It’s really become a part of the national character to engage in this kind of navel-gazing, for better or worse.

    Still, it’s hard to argue that a high unemployment rate with few new jobs being created and many that exist disappearing overseas don’t represent real problems, not to mention stifling taxes, huge budget deficit, and bureaucracy France has genuine economic problems and I can’t see any way that a right wing demagogue can blame that on Muslims.

  • pryoung

    That’s the thing, the kids of the banlieux don’t feel much affinity with the cultural world of their parents, nor do they feel accepted by the French culture they would like to join. They don’t have much use for their parents’ country of origin and rarely if ever visit it, and France for its part calls them “canaille” and “racaille” and other felicitous names. They’re caught in between worlds, and given insufficient economic opportunities to advance, as you suggest. Globalization, rather than Islam, is the “cultural” influence you’re looking for here.

    Jews were in ghettoes and shtetls in Eastern Europe, by the way, not in France. There were certainly Jewish neighborhoods in Paris, and concentrations of Jewish population in Alsace and Bordeaux, but these were never like the ghettoes you’re thinking of, at least after the French Revolution extended full civil rights to Jews. The housing projects in the banlieux were intended originally to house temporary guest workers, and their location and brutalist design attest as much.

    And if you can’t see how a right wing demagogue can blame unemployment and French inertia on Muslims, you haven’t been paying much attention to what Jean-Marie Le Pen has been saying for the last 30 years.

    Where I would suspect we might agree is in the belief that the left needs to offer a stronger counter-narrative and set of actual proposals to make change an inviting and involving thing, as against Sarko’s rather punitive and divisive vision,

  • Garuffo

    You just can’t compare Jews in Europe throught the 19th and 20th century and Muslims in France nowadays. plnelson, you seem to dig Le Pen’s rethoric asserting that there is a clash of civilizations in France. I think that pryoung gave a much better explanation of the 2005 riots. That’s funny to see that for american citizens it was “Muslim riots” while it was not! It’s was “young angry poor men riots” and, believe me, most of these guys don’t really care about the Koran. Iniqualities are too huge between downtowns and “la banlieue” and the last government did little to change this situation. But “la banlieue” is not calling for a muslim uprising to impose the chariah, it’s crying for school to learn informatics, for access to cinema to watch the latest Spiderman and above all it want’s jobs to get rich and live these ghettos. Where’s the clash of civilizations?

    katemcshane> If you’re looking for “a place where you aren’t pressured by the culture to be an android” you should hurry. Throught TV and radio a sick mass culture is poisoning our cultural life. Without help from the government to promote Culture that’s gonna be hard-time for those who want to escape the unrefined popular culture…

  • David Weinstein

    I watched the nine minute clip of the Royale-Sarkozy debate and was reassured in a certain manner. Both candiates knew their facts and were fine debaters. This is a tribute to the elite French higher educational system (both attended the prestigious Sciences Politiques school), and to the expectations of the French of their politicians. Sarkozy was not a fire-breathing racist and Mme. Royale has seemed to has rethought the old socialist party line with some innovations towards a center left.

    Sarkozy though with his insitance on being the one who will “do” or “accomplish” (faire, faire) without saying precisely what made me think of the of old Mussolini populist attraction in a expensive designer suit and grande-ecole polish. I was reassured by Garuffo’s vision of what Mme. Royale represents, the candidate’s understanding of green capitalism, of civil society and the repsonsibility of the individual citizen. If only she could find a way to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of the French through a combination of tax relief and incentives to such start-ups, I think she has the entire package.

    What does disturb me is why the French seem so enamoured of Sarkozy with his obvious lack of humanistic values and personality traits. I did not feel the so-called malaise of the French when I was in France last year. In fact there seemed to be a feeling of more dynamism and joie-de-vivre than previous years I had visited, especially in Paris. So where does this attraction to Sarko come from?

    As a Jew, with France’s shameful treatment of the Jewish people during the occupation, the attraction to Sarkozy and his lack of humanism is disturbing. I remember reading one of the “new philosophers” in France about the deep causes of Nazism and the holocaust, and he attributed it, quite rightly, to the collapse of the humanist values of the Renaissance in Europe.

    That is what is disquieting about Sarkozy. And perhaps he doesn’t even know or own up to it himself. And perhaps his other qualities of rationalism and so on will overshadow this darker side of himself if he does come to power.

    Perhaps this is the deeper story of this election: the humanism of Roayale versus the lack of it in Sarkozy…. Perhaps France is a mirror for the rest of the world.

  • Garuffo

    David Weinstein> I’m glad to see that you highlighted Sarkozy’s lack of humanistic values and speaking about France’s responsibility in the “Shoah (by the way, is Shoah a word only used by French people for the Holocaust?) is quite interesting. Indeed, on another blog I praised Chirac’s humanistic qualities, reminding the fact that he is the one who acknowledged the responsibility of France in the Shoah. He also made really great speach about colonisation and recently, in one of is last speaches, he solemnly advice his citizen to never deal with the extremes” (“ne composez jamais avec les extrêmes”). Humanism is neither Left nor Right but this time it clearly stands with Royal.

    Unfortunately, the polls arent’ with her. This was a very long campaign, full of surprises. I had never thought that I could be a supporter of Royal a year ago – I supported Strauss-Kahn (Jospin’s minister for economics from 1997 to 1999) for the socialist primaries – but in the end I discovered a strong and determined woman and I think she was worth arguing and fighting for. As we say in France, now “les dés sont jetés” (litteraly “dices are thrown” which means that the outcome is almost certain) and I’m a bit melancolic thinking that, indeed, “Perhaps this is the deeper story of this election: the humanism of Roayale versus the lack of it in Sarkozy…. Perhaps France is a mirror for the rest of the world.”

  • hurley

    Jerome Guillet an especially insightful guest, particularly in his emphasis of the role of Anglo-American media in shaping France’s debate with itself. He might have mentioned the Paris-based Herald Tribune (“the world’s newspaper”), a propaganda-mill whose editorial line toward France ranges all the way from condescension to contempt (always excepting the admirable William Pfaff). And you thought Art Buchwald was the funny one.

    tbrucia correct about the relative importance Americans give to France vv other countries. Status anxieties come into play apropos in ways they rarely do with the rest of Rummy’s Old Europe, one reason perhaps for the Trib’s editorial animus against it. Some are based on ignorance, others on envious knowledge of just how well the French do so many things. There may have been a decline in public services of late, but they’re still a cut above anything I’ve experienced in the US. Health care is efficient and inexpensive, the rail system the best in the world, etc. And then of course there’s the outrage that France often refuses to do the US’s bidding, most recently in the matter of that smashing success, the Iraq war. How dare they?

    pryoung right to point out that rarely has there been a time when France wasn’t bemoaning its lot. You can call it a “malaise,” or you can look at it as an ongoing process of cultural self-examination. The US might do well to take a leaf from the French in that regard, and re-evaluate its prevailing mood of mindless boosterism in light of that gloomy Gallic disposition to doubt and contemplation.

    Garuffo: Vous n’avez pas besoin de faire des excuses pour votre Anglais!

    Vive la France!

  • http://www.gitano.org evaskor

    Very disappointing show. Except for Mrs. Ockrent remarks – as always she shows great mastery of journalism and level of analysis that make ‘information’, really ‘information’.

    The other participants were, sorry to say, useless; especially Guillet. Taking a political stand is fine, but inventing numbers (by the way, where on this universe do you get these numbers!!!), and manipulating facts is all but informative especially in an open source media context. Or maybe that is the problem?? But of course, as Mr. Guillet said it 100 times during the show, all the traditional media are controlled and manipulated but the dangerous evil right wing candidate!

    It is obvious this program and the ideas expressed in the blog are highly biased – not that it matters. But the question is how valuable is to express negative and unconstructive attacks against a candidate (and in a way against the million of French who vote for him?) to explain what’s going on in France? Isn’t what US audiance would like to learn? Or this particular US audiance is just interested in being conforted in their position of Anti-Bush = France is better (nice romantic joie de vivre in a Paris bistrot!!)???

    Could not it have been more intellingent for Mr.Guillet to present the propositions of the candidat of his choice, and how they can translate in political actions? Maybe that is the problem; what is the socialists’ program?

    I would however agree on one point, it will be very difficult, almost impossible for Mrs. Sarkozy to implement any of his propositions (especially regarding labor ..); the unions and left parties are going to enjoy preparing days and days of strikes, like in the good old time (68??).

    To answer the question that beats Mr. Guillet on why french people favor Sarkozy; it may simply due to the fact that they are fed up with pseudo social ideology and being suckers of that system. Maybe if Mr. Guillet was less obsessed by decrying the anglo saxon media, he could look at the reality of everyday life in France, especially in Province and find few answers.

  • plnelson

    That’s the thing, the kids of the banlieux don’t feel much affinity with the cultural world of their parents, nor do they feel accepted by the French culture they would like to join. They don’t have much use for their parents’ country of origin and rarely if ever visit it, and France for its part calls them “canaille” and “racaille” and other felicitous names. They’re caught in between worlds, and given insufficient economic opportunities to advance, as you suggest. Globalization, rather than Islam, is the “cultural” influence you’re looking for here.

    Yes, but you’re still not addressing my central point.

    Consider Jews and Chinese in the United States. Both immigrant groups faced massive discrimination and restrictions, both officially and in everyday interactions with other Americans. Both groups were, until recently, isolated in their own communities. Both groups had customs, practices, languages, that were alien to other Americans, and both groups were routinely portrayed as threats to the prevailing WASP culture.

    Yet both groups thrived – their culture became a source of strength to them, their values of education and scholarship served them well, and their family values for the most part kept them from becoming a source of trouble outside their comminities. (there were some ethnic gangs but the scale of that activity was tiny). This pattern has been reflected all over the world in ethnic Chinese and Jewish enclaves and communities. (BTW, both groups strongly resent the “model minority” portrait I’m painting here but the facts speak for themselves).

    So I still say that there are many different possible responses to being an isolated, discriminated-against ethnic minority and the one that is chosen reflects the culture in question.

  • plnelson

    Throught TV and radio a sick mass culture is poisoning our cultural life.

    Then why do they watch it? I think American TV and commercial radio is idiotic, boring, and lurid so I don’t watch it. Surely the French are capable of making the same choice.

    Without help from the government to promote Culture that’s gonna be hard-time for those who want to escape the unrefined popular culture…

    You seem to be saying that the French government knows better than its own citizens. What kind of democracy is that?

  • plnelson

    Indeed, on another blog I praised Chirac’s humanistic qualities,

    And yet France continued its paralysis and decline under Chirac. So maybe whatever you’re calling “humanism” is no what’s called-for in France.

    I think that what France needs is change. Royal seems to be clinging to all the old values of state-paternalism that resulted in the current problem.

  • plnelson

    I would however agree on one point, it will be very difficult, almost impossible for Mr. Sarkozy to implement any of his propositions (especially regarding labor ..); the unions and left parties are going to enjoy preparing days and days of strikes, like in the good old time (68??).

    I agree with this! In the US we tend to think of “leftist” and “conservative” as opposites. But in France today the unions are the most conservative force if, by “conservative” we mean stuck in the past – resisting change.

    So the French choice is between a candidate who is unlikely to propose any bold changes (Royal) and one who is unlikely to achieve any bold changes (Sarkozy). The result will be the same but the philosophical distinction will occupy years of conversation among wine-sipping black-wearing intellectuals in the cafes around Paris. (and before someone complains that this is just an American stereotype – I recently returned from Paris and its all true!) (granted: I spent the week hanging out with poets)

  • http://www.gitano.org evaskor

    —Ref plnelson:

    The result will be the same but the philosophical distinction will occupy years of conversation among wine-sipping black-wearing intellectuals in the cafes around Paris. (and before someone complains that this is just an American stereotype – I recently returned from Paris and its all true!) (granted: I spent the week hanging out with poets) ——

    Yeap, that can only be true – 35 hours work leaves a lot of free time to enjoy bistrots; not counting on the ‘Rmistes’ who have all the time in the world to enjoy life…. (k I am pushing it!).

    Just a remark; life in Paris with were most influent people live – as well a very large expats communauty (not immigrants, but expats with very decent standard of living) could bring this image of relaxed joie de vivre.

    Some nuances: having lived and worked in Paris and other parts of France, reality of a everyday French worker life is far from enjoying time in bistrot. It is also a struggle to commute (not even talking when public transports are on strikes), increasing economic tighness, and the rest.

    On a note regarding immigrants and life in the suburbs; do you see many of these youngs enjoying life in Parisian cafes?

  • plnelson

    On a note regarding immigrants and life in the suburbs; do you see many of these youngs enjoying life in Parisian cafes?

    How could I tell? How would I identify them by appearance?

    Still, one could have said the same thing about Chinese Americans after 1870 – when the first Chinese laborers were brought over to work on the railroads – and for the next 80 or 90 years. When I was in grade school I had a Chinese-American teacher – Miss Wong – she was the first ethnic Chinese person I had ever met. It was probably 10 years before I saw another one. Up until a few decades ago Chinese and Jews in the US were restricted, limited, and shunned by law or social custom or an elaborate system of quotas in the educational system. Rude jokes and caricaturesof them abounded. American treatment of them was at least as bad as the French treatment of their North African immigrants.

  • http://www.gitano.org evaskor

    So it did not seem you met any of suburban immigrant… You would have noticed!

    And a huge difference between the treatment of Chinese immigrants, African Americans,… in the US; immigrants (of all origins) are WELL treated and supported in France (free education, free health care, housing, ect… like for any French).

  • http://www.gitano.org evaskor

    My point is that the nice social and progressist ideas proposed in this forum are just opposite to what the reality of everyday life is for the ones you propose to defend. People living in the surbubs, or just in middle class neighborood (immmigrants or not…) have other problems to face everyday than carrying on philosophical meeting at cafes. A unique fringe of the population have enough priviliges to discuss and decide what is good or not for others.

  • Garuffo

    “A unique fringe of the population have enough priviliges to discuss and decide what is good or not for others.”

    Indeed, and it’s not gonna change with another five years of right-wing policies…

    And indeed, under Chirac France has declined but, at least, he is fair with mankind. Do you see the point? With Sarkozy we got a Chirac-like folk but lacking his humanism. How great!

    “Then why do they watch it? I think American TV and commercial radio is idiotic, boring, and lurid so I don’t watch it. Surely the French are capable of making the same choice.”

    Ok, but how many of your fellow citizens are beeing “brainwashed” by this crap? You’re just turning a blind eye to the real question which is, why those who do not watch TV are mainly well educated, and why people who are well educated come from richer families than those who aren’t. The good old refrain “you want it? you do it!” is ok if everybody has the same chance to succeed, to “do it”. I’m not a strong supporter of “social determinism” but does thinking that society has a profound impact on how we behave make a fool of me? The social-lift is broken in France, it is a hundred time harder to gain a seat in “classe prépa” (programs that prepare students to high-ranking MBA or best institute of technology) for children from poor suburbs than from children who are from richer parts of the cities. That’s also true for the US, but the idea of French republicanism is to make those inequalities less and less blatant.

    “You seem to be saying that the French government knows better than its own citizens. What kind of democracy is that?”

    There is another strong idea in France which stated that the rise of Culture musn’t be rooted to the market. And I was only recalling that if the government choose not to give subsidies to “non-profit-making” cultural institutions we’ll have no alternative to “idiotic TV and commercial radio”.

  • http://www.gitano.org evaskor

    —- REUTERS

    —-France risks violence and brutality if right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy wins Sunday’s presidential election, his Socialist opponent Segolene Royal said on Friday.

    On the last day of official campaigning, opinion polls showed Sarkozy enjoyed a commanding lead over Royal, who accused the former interior minister of lying and polarizing France.

    “Choosing Nicolas Sarkozy would be a dangerous choice,” Royal told RTL radio.

    “It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of (his) candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country (if he won),” she said.

    —————

    who is scaring who???????

  • Garuffo

    I’m must admit that Royal’s last delcarations are very ackward. Game is over now, it’s past midnight down here in France.

    “This is the end, pompompom, my only friend the end.”

    Let’s wait and see (well, and vote in case you’re French and above 18).

  • http://www.gitano.org evaskor

    I will of course vote! Despite being far from the hexagone, I will vote at the local polling station part of the French consulate – the elections for us are actually held tomorrow.

    To conclude on a positive note; I believe democracy has won in any case thanks to the high mobilisation. I do hope as many and even more people will vote; results really do not matter so much aftewards.

  • rc21

    Why would Royal try to incite violence. She seems to be threatining the French people. Obviously when you have no real ideas you resort to personal attacks,and threats.

  • poncho

    What threat? She’s actually correct. Is it inciting violence to point out the truth? That’s like saying that Sarko is threatening economic destruction when he says that France will suffer economic stagnation if Royal is elected.

  • rc21

    She does not know the truth because it has not happened yet. People may riot,but her comments were incendiary,and irresponsible. As I said, when you have no real ideas you resort to personal attacks and threats. If she is the best France has to offer it is no wonder the country has fallen on hard times.

  • http://www.radioopensource.org Chris

    A friend writes — the Early Music maestro Joel Cohen, aka Trobador — from his half-time home in Paris:

    The country of the rights of man, of the Enlightenment, of Voltaire and Zola and Cohn-Bendit, is also a place with a deep current of authoritarianism, and has put its fate more than once in the hands of a man on a white horse. Are they about to do the same thing on Sunday?

    Today at noon I walked into the gallery of my art dealer friend. He is voting Sarkozy, and his secretary is a Royal supporter. He wants lower taxes and less government inteference, she wants more attention paid to the needs of the less-favored. A classic left-right split, except that circumstances this time around are somewhat exceptional: the French are seriously, seriously pissed off about their sclerotic government and its incapacity to deal with real social problems. Segolene talks about reconciliation and the healing of social fractures. Sarkozy talks about re-establishing order and “liquidating” the dangerous ideas of May 1968. In some sense the election is about competing visions of mankind, one optimistic and derived from the French Enlightenment, the other dark and derived from the pre-Enlightenment, Catholic sense of fallen man, and the authoritarian past.

    Other more mundane things enter in to the mix as well: Segolène’s grating voice, her castrating, nattering moments during the debate, and her difficulty in articulating precise policies; Sarkozy’s well publicized temper tantrums atjournalists and at the only Muslim member of his cabinet, not to mention his wife’s appearance on the cover of Paris Match while on a New York weekend jaunt with her lover.

    So if on Sunday the French elect a short, brutal, far right, desperately ambitioius, unattractive Hungarian-Jewish cuckolded mongrel to their highest elective office it will signal an extraordinary shift in the political landscape. Let’s hope the adage that x-ty million of them can’t be wrong will hold. In any case Sarkozy will provide a field day for editorial cartoonists. Assuming that the new strongman President allows the newspapers to remain open, and independent.

  • poncho

    She has spoken what most people in Paris know. There WILL be protests in the suburbs if Sarkozy is elected. My friends that work in the city halls in the 93 (suburbs northeast) who are the best placed to know tell me the same thing. It is not a personal attack to say what will happen in the future. It’s a statement of belief that is shared by a great many.

    BTW, Why do you say that France has fallen on hard times? From where I am in Paris, I’d say that it’s the US that has fallen on hard times.

  • dkr

    Guillet….Oh la la.

    First of all, I do not agree with Guillet’s comments that it is the older generation that is voting for Sarkozy. I nearly fell off my chair. Everyone that I have spoken with, who is voting for Sarkozy, is in their 20′s and 30′s. Hmmmmmm?

    I lived in Montparnasse (during the riots in 2005 and the London bombing.) Also, I arrived the date that France voted down on the EU in May 2005 (Chirac’s political defeat). I then returned shortly after the spring riots of 2006. The chance of riots, upon an election of Sarkozy, is possible. Les banlieus are in turmoil at an intense level…Sarkozy called them ‘scum’.

    Incredibly, I didn’t hear talk of LAICITE in this program. How can you do a program on the election without discussing LAICITE?! I agree with Evaskor that this lacked a discussion of issues due to wasted time with the position of Guillet, which was quite entrenched. Throughout my time in France, I attended many dinner parties that involved intense political conversations, mainly with people that were around during 1968, yet their children were there too. Their children, who are now in their 30′s are bending towards Sarkozy. Quite the opposite of what Guillet said. It has been clear to me that Sarkozy is going to win this election.

    Also, there was no mention of the intense patriarchy that exists in France (given Segolene Royal). I don’t know…is this the big elephant in the room that no one wants to bring up?! Anyone who has lived there, especially women, must be aware of this. This was made clear to me my first day of academic studies when I was told how to behave in order to blend in while living in to Paris. To call a spade a spade, France is extremely patriarchal, more than the United States. The idea of France voting in a woman as president, no matter how much one would want to think it is possible, is hard to imagine at this point. Please.

  • Garuffo

    dkr> Sorry but Gillet was just looking at the figures. I quote (and poorly translate) Le Monde:

    “Young people vote Royal, elder persons Sarkozy. It’s among electors between 18 and 24 that Royal made her best outcomes. According to the Sofres, more than a third of this age range gave her their ballots. It’s nine points more than her national average. In the same age range only 19% of the electors voted her UMP contender, 12 points less than his national 31%. UDF Bayrou is barely doing better while the Front National candidate followed with 8%. The more the age rank increase, the more the electors support Sarkozy: among French people above 65, 44% of the electors chose the right-wing candidate.”

    This is not polls, this is results.

  • http://enkerli.wordpress.com/ Alexandre Enkerli

    Would have been interesting to have Jacques Attali on the program, One of his recent blog entries (in French) on the “debate”:

    http://blogs.lexpress.fr/attali/2007/05/merci.html

  • tbrucia

    I look forward to a discussion like this regarding the Spanish regional and local elections scheduled for May 27, 2007… http://www.citymayors.com/politics/spain-elections-07.html . Unlike the rather boring confrontation in France, the Spanish elections feature “the government’s response to terrorism by ETA, the Basque region’s separatist movement, and well-publicised cases of corruption in local politics”. (Is that the sound of rapt attention and excitement that I hear throbbing across the net?)

  • plnelson

    And a huge difference between the treatment of Chinese immigrants, African Americans,… in the US; immigrants (of all origins) are WELL treated and supported in France (free education, free health care, housing, ect… like for any French).

    Which makes their behavior even less excusable.

  • plnelson

    Ok, but how many of your fellow citizens are beeing “brainwashed” by this crap? You’re just turning a blind eye to the real question which is, why those who do not watch TV are mainly well educated,

    Maybe by turning off the TV they have more time to read a book and become educated?

    No one, in France or the USA, holds a gun to anyone’s head and forces them to watch TV. And wealth is the RESULT of being educated, not the other way around. Education in France is free, or close to it, anyway, so income should be no barrier to education. And I’m sorry to keep harping on the Jews and Chinese in the US but both groups were very poor when they came to the US but they raised their children to respect scholarship, teachers, and education, and today both groups have higher levels of educational achievement than the average for the US.

  • plnelson

    Joel Cohen wroteb this ?!

    So if on Sunday the French elect a short, brutal, far right, desperately ambitioius, unattractive Hungarian-Jewish cuckolded mongrel

    He should limit his comments to early music. The sort of childish tantrum of character assassination is beneath his dignity and if any of us postd comments like that on ROS about any of the other participants we’d be banned. That’s the last time I go to a Boston Camerata concert.

  • http://www.radioopensource.org/author/david/ David

    plnelson, you’re totally right. If a commenter wrote ugly language like Cohen’s about a member of the ROS community, we’d delete the comment.

    We do have more lenient rules for writing about public figures, however. Even so this may have crossed the line. We’ll be more careful in the future.

  • rc21

    Cohens comments say more about him and his ilk than they do about Sarkozy.

  • David Weinstein

    Now that the election is done, I have a few comments about it. As a Francophile, I am very disappointed with the French majority who voted in Sarko. There is a rich French expression, “prendre les gens pour les gogos.” Translation, “Take people for slobbering idiots.” But it is untranslatable, the word “gogo,” has such humor and derision in it. I think Sarko, with his double speak, saying one thing and its opposite at the same time on so many issues, his veiled racist remarks, while insisting that he is the straight talker, is a classic example of taking people for “gogos.”

    I have always thought that the French were astute politically, more interested and analytical about politics than us. This could happen in America with George Bush with his false populism and peity, but in France where discussing politics runs just behind le football as the national pastime? What happened here? The French pride themselves as being more knowlegeable and connected to history that the average American. It’s been only barely more than forty years since the European fascist dictators were defeated with horribly shameful and disasterous consequences for France, Germany and Italy (I inculde France with the Vichy government). C’est trop gros, as the French say.

    Certainly one has to lay part of the blame at the feet of the French left with its lack of new ideas and perhaps not being sufficently in touch enough with the everyday concerns of the French voter despite fundamentally desiring to make the life of the average citizen better. I think the riots of 2005 frightened the French more than anyone realized, and Sarko deftly played on these fears. The irony for those who rioted, and thought they could create social change through violence, is that Sarko et al will do nothing to ease their plight, perhaps even tighten the screws, while royale would have at least tried.

    Or is it the fault of TV? Are the French watching too much of “Star Academie?” Did Sarko understand the power of the modern media to brainwash the population a l’americaine?

    So what are the French in for? Here is a a link I got from some French friends with interviews with professionals in their respective fields, academic and experts getting to the heart of what Sarko will try to achieve in sixteen different social/economic/governmental areas from medical care, to education to social services. He looks to be Maggie Thatcher on speed with a solid dose of old fashioned greed and the Hungarian Iron Cross thrown in: http://www.lautrecampagne/refuatations.php

    In the end, I think that a more compassionate, humanistic, intelligent and forward looking center will arise in France perhaps on the left a la Tony Blair’s New Labor (apologies to those who don’t like anglo-French comaprisons) or Bayreux’s center right that is humanistic as well. So I think all’s well that ends well. I’m sorry that the French will have to go through such a painful learning curve. C’est dommage, c’est vraiment tres dommage. I also think the French will have to come to terms with the large Muslim population living in France, accept them into their society, even when so many are relegated to projects in the suburbs, and that the Muslims will have to find a way to be both Muslim and French.

    But I will end on an optimistic note, and will take the risk of comapring the States and France: We are the first two democracies in the modern world, where human rights, the rule of law, and the freedoms and repsonsibilities of each citizen are at the heart of this great social experiment and evolution of mankind. And as long as freedom beats in the hearts of its citizens both great nations will survive and remain lights to the world.

    Vive la France!

    Vive la Liberte!

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