Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ségolène Royal: A candidate out of the ordinary - Pfaff - International Herald Tribune

David Seaton's News Links
An easy prediction: Ségolène Royal is going to run away with this election. The big crisis in France is their feeling that they have ceased to be
"cool". The French have alway (for centuries) defined what was cool... They haven't really done that since 1968... They are in pain. They want their mojo back... Ségolène is a star, she's the coolest thing to hit politics since John F. Kennedy. All the women will vote for her and if only two men do she'll have the election sewn up. But a lot of men will vote for her too because she is so beautiful and so intelligent and so... cool. DS
Abstract: After Ségolène Royal was elected last week as the Socialist Party candidate in France's 2007 presidential elections, she said a striking thing: "Don't be afraid."(...) why were the words familiar? Obviously I was recalling President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first inaugural address in March 1933, when he said the only thing Americans had to fear "was fear itself." Royal undoubtedly spoke spontaneously. But the situation of the two countries at these two points in their histories - Americans as the Great Depression was extending its reach, and the French today - have in common a certain failure of nerve and a sense of stalemate. Another parallel suggests itself. From the start of her candidacy, Royal has been criticized as succeeding on mere looks and charm, and attacked for lacking a well-defined program, substituting what her critics call "populism" - an appeal to voters to write the program of a new government together with her. In the white blazer of her campaign appearances and the three televised debates, always addressing the people and not the other politicians, the photogenic Royal (Ségolène, as she now is universally known) was mocked in the press as "the Madonna of the Opinion Polls" - which she has consistently led since the beginning of her campaign. In 1933, the American commentator Walter Lippmann called the young governor of New York "an amiable man with many philanthropic impulses, but he is ... too eager to please. ... Franklin D. Roosevelt is no crusader. He is no tribune of the people. He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would like very much to be president."(...) Royal's victory last week unexpectedly became something of a beatification. The size of the vote for her, and the poll evidence of her wide popularity, silenced her critics. A usually acerbic columnist, Michèle Stouvenot, retreated into a respectful irony, writing that "In her white blazer, like the Immaculate Conception, she seemed standing on a little cloud, as if in levitation, transfigured, transcended by the force of destiny. She was General de Gaulle on the Champs- Elysées the night of Liberation." Royal said she would be the candidate of insoumission - meaning insubordination, unwillingness to be subdued. Even President Jacques Chirac's wife, Bernadette, remarked that "the hour of women has arrived," adding that she "used to consult her husband before speaking to journalists. I don't anymore." Stouvenot wrote: "Another victory for Ségolène. She has liberated Bernadette." READ IT ALL


Boz said...

I think your perfectly right that Royal will probably run away with the election down the road, or at least win by more than a slim majority. She definitely has a quality of optimism that is incredibly attractive to a France somewhat confused with its place in the world. I just wrote a quick comparison of Royal and JFK here that you might find interesting. She represents the same qualities that made him attractive, but she is altogether a different person in experience and political views.

Anonymous said...

Nice prediction...but way off. Conservative party wins in France (the people of France win). Perhaps now the economy will start to move.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

It was hers to lose and she blew it. Probably not her fault though, the Socialist party needs to be purged by whoever leads it. A party of the left has to totally disciplined to ever succeed. "Infantile leftism," is always fatal.

At this point Sarkozy is like a Rorschach inkblot, people project what they want to see in him. He's a total opportunist... now he has total power for five years. God knows what is waiting for us with Sarko... especially if the economy goes sour.