March 19, 2007

French Elections

Most of what you need to know about the upcoming French elections you can get here from Denis Boyles:

...this week, a couple of surprise developments. First, Jacques Chirac, the risible Elysée incumbent, announced he would not be a candidate for re-election! You can imagine the surprise. The historic moment had all the grandeur of a Disney parade and all the emotional honesty of an actor entering rehab. In the end, it’ll probably be more rehab than parade for Chirac, especially if Sarko loses and takes with him the cloak of invisibility he has promised to throw over Chirac’s fraud-infested career. French quibblers who think people who break laws should be punished are already on the trail of Chirac, rattling chains and making the old man nervous at the prospect of doing hard labor without benefit of a 35-hour week...

...The other tearful political moment of the week was Dominique de Villepin’s confession on national radio....that he was endorsing Sarkozy. The tears were Sarko’s because the impact was immediate: Less than 24 hours after getting Villepin’s endorsement, Sarkozy had dropped a point-and-a-half in the polls. It’s taken him all week just to stop the slide...

...the race is further complicated by the announcement that Jean-Marie LePen, the George Wallace of French politics—has received enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. He will poll at 12-14 percent for the duration, but his actual numbers will trend slightly higher, since admitting you’re supporting an anti-immigrant, anti-American, anti-Semitic blowhard is a hard thing to do, even if you’re an anti-American French anti-Semite.

The presumption had been that it would be a race between Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal, the Socialist candidate. But another contender has surfaced that might push Royal out of the runoff.

UPDATE 3/22: Claire Berlinski on Sarkozy:

Mr. Sarkozy is the only politician in the race forthrightly to address the challenge of integrating France's Muslim minority and to propose serious policies to redress its estrangement — policies that go beyond firehosing more taxpayer money into French ghettos. He correctly deplores a contemporary French culture that discourages initiative, punishes merit, and remunerates sloth more than work. He calls for lower taxes, more flexible labor laws, the partial deregulation of the French economy, and the streamlining of its bureaucracy. He affirms his solidarity with Israel and rules out no options in countering Iranian nuclear ambitions...
Posted by dan at March 19, 2007 10:58 PM