Monday, April 23, 2007

Ségolène and "la mesure"

David Seaton's News Links
In trying to handicap the French presidential race I think we have to ask ourselves, why 18% of the voters cast their ballot for a moderate-conservative horse breeder like François Bayrou in the first place?

I would suggest that this was a deeply anti-"Sarkozy the man" vote, as the program differences between the two conservatives wouldn't justify it. The question is Sarkozy himself. His character, his personality.

Those who voted for him voted for that character and personality. I think everybody that really likes him has had a chance to vote for him already... That is all there is. I don't think we'll see a great mass of Bayrou's supporters rushing to vote for Sarkozy... they simply couldn't vote for a Socialist in the first round. Now comes the gathering together of those who fear Sarko and detest him. If Sarkozy tries to move toward the center the Le Pen vote probably will abstain and the moderates won't be convinced.

Remember when our beloved leader George W. Bush said that the problem of the French was that they didn't have a word for "entrepreneur"... He might have added that they don't have a word for "bourgeois" either. The French have, in fact, invented the universal word for "middle class" and they are famous for being the world's most bourgeois people. At the center of their values is "la mesure"... just the right amount of anything, not too much, not too little... balance. My feeling is that although Sarkozy is exciting he is too hot, too often angry. Not quite in control... not even at home. Madame Sarkozy is often quite openly seen to indulge in, to use a down home turn of phrase, "a slippin' and a slidin"... The French don't care much about what people do in bed, but they admire discretion, control... mesure.

Ségolène Royal, although without the benefit of clergy, has had four children with the same man and both of them have careers in the same organization without any tension or jealousy being evident... How balanced, reliable and steady can you get?

Like this article from the Financial Times suggests, I think the election will be a referendum about Sarkozy's character and I think that he will fail the test. I wouldn't be surprised if his wife, now that he is safely into the second round, chose this precise moment to humiliate him. Hell hath no fury... DS

Battleground moves to the centre - Financial Times
Abstract: The trauma of April 2002 weighed heavily on Sunday’s elections. Left wing voters were determined not to repeat the mistake of the last ballot when they spread their support among several candidates allowing Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, to sneak through to the second round. This time, the Socialist Party appealed for a ’vote utile’ (a useful vote) in the first round. They won it.(...) Support for the candidates of the extreme left fell sharply compared with 2002 as the left rallied around Ségolène Royal in spite of widespread misgivings about her campaign.(...) The question on everyone’s lips this morning is: can Ms Royal win? It is possible, but it will be difficult. A snap poll from Ipsos on Sunday night showed Nicolas Sarkozy would win the second round by a handy margin of 54 per cent to 46 per cent. However, five of the 10 defeated candidates immediately rallied behind Royal to form an anti-Sarkozy front; the others refrained from endorsing anyone. Ms Royal has shown that she is a remarkably resilient campaigner. Her opponents have underestimated her at their peril. She may also find it easier than Mr Sarkozy to move towards the middle, the battleground of the second round. As a woman of the left, with values of the right, she may make a better “cross-over” candidate. As Jacques Séguéla, the veteran advertising guru, once put it in an interview with the FT, there is a lot of Sarko in Sego, but not a lot of Sego in Sarko. It will be critical how the voters of François Bayrou, the third-placed centrist candidate, now divide. But it would be a mistake to believe that he has a single transferable block of votes at his command. Earlier opinion polls have suggested his vote could split equally between Ms Royal and Mr Sarkozy.(...) The vote on May 6 could well turn out to be a referendum on Mr Sarkozy. It is his election to lose; but the headstrong Mr Sarkozy is certainly capable of a rush of blood to the head that could cost him victory. READ IT ALL

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