The week of French national schizophrenia is in full swing, with the outcome not unlike the chances of picking a Grand national winner, with about the same probability and margin for error.
The bookies’ favourite is Sarko, the coffee machine non elected congresses’ favourite – a French work place institution – is still undecided, the questions of opinion are – uniquely for the French – not based on policy or political persuasion; they are simply based on the candidates appearance.
Forgot about policy – voting locally on policies is not normative – there are several reasons for this, partly the complex regional politics, different voting zones (regionally differentiated by the different departments), and the innate French tacit understanding that politics, like any complex intellectual notion, is beyond the understanding of anyone not French
Donc, this election is about appearance. Ask any bloke around the coffee machine and the breakdown is something like ‘Sarko – too slippery, Royal – too detached, Bayrou – too rural. Ask a women and the replies are Sarko – bad haircut, Royal – to aristocratic, Bayrou – he wears a tweed jacket. This is the complex level of political preference that Gallup polling hasn’t grasped. One other point, if you think any French women is going to vote for another women who her husband finds attractive, then you haven’t experienced the full level of spiteful, waspish, vindictive paranoia that this engenders. I have, it’s frightening.
So, the breakdown of this detailed level of political analysis concerning the candidates are categorised as follows:
Sarko: Bad haircut/too slippery
Royal: Too detached/too aristocratic/too attractive
Bayrou: A country bumpkin/Tweed jacket
Meanwhile the coffee machines are getting a thrashing and idling away several hours standing around foyers debating the likely outcome of the election is turning into a full time occupation.
Detailed analysis is based around the big three…or four, depending on the time of day, and everyone is an expert.
It’s any mention of the last of the four that gets the debate going. The subtle narrowing of the eyes and the prepared stock reply ‘I didn’t vote for him in ‘02’. Really? Someone did, several million someones, although the post election admission is along similar lines to the second world war recollections concerning collaboration – everyones’ grand parents in occupied France were in the resistance…I don’t think so. No-one voted for Le Pen in the last election, other than the 20% of the eligible voters who actually did.
Le Pen … the elephant in the room of this election; less in the room actually, as berserkly stampeding across the political savannah in a way that would even have David Attenborough reaching for the shotgun mumbling, ’don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes’.
To anyone with even a passing interest in what is going on would be aware of, Le Pen is the worst example of what happens when extreme nationalism manifests itself in the politically and socially venomous diatribes of the extreme right. He appeals to a sector that encourages the latent racism, intolerance and misplaced idea of superiority that can found without too much enquiry in certain spectrums of the French mainstream.
He visited here three weeks ago, sparking local riots. The city was partitioned by the police and I had a ring side seat from my inner city apartment as the police wagons arrived and marched on the local square, tear gassing, truncheoning and generally kicking the crap out of a few hundred protestors who had the temerity to point out that Le Pen was here to peddle a his own warped idea of what liberty and fraternity means if you’re an immigrant, particularly of north African origin.
It’s a mistake to dismiss this faction of politics as inconsequential – these jack booted retards have the ability to polemise and fracture debate. Don’t forget Nick Griffin, the BNP’s one eyed warped version of political modernity hosted Le Pen in Blighty in 2004.
So, the smart money’s on Sarkozy, although he’s blotted his copybook with the recently rumoured secret deal with Le Pen.
The nightmare for Sarko is going to be if he has to face off in the second round with Bayrou; If that’s the case, all bets are off. The French would go for change rather than the status quo as nothing has fundamentally changed in five years.
It’s going to be an interesting few weeks