I’ve just tried to wake my mind up a bit this Sunday morning by reading this article in The Observer about SÃƒÂ©golÃƒÂ¨ne Royal (Wikipedia about her). The picture that emerges from the article is a strange one, an image of a politician who is sharp and competent, but has not managed to quite master the popular touch – as shown by her answer about Zidane / Materazzi. Further, while the ‘break with the male macho elite’ line is very welcome and valid, it cannot be forgotten that Royal is still a graduate of ENA and had had a long career in the socialist party.
This analysis has also led me to wonder what the major power axis in Europe might look like at the start of 2008. Blair will be gone, Brown presumably having taken over in his place. Merkel will still be in place. And then you can add SÃƒÂ©golÃƒÂ¨ne Royal to the picture? That would really be a positive change from the macho days of Blair-SchrÃƒÂ¶der-Chirac.
Anyway, there’s a long way to go before that happens… Royal has to get the nomination first, and then win, ans there’s still the small matter of beating Nicolas Sarkozy, who remains favourite according to Paddy Power political betting.
The good thing in France is that no politician would be “destituted” or publicly humiliated by details about his/her private life as it so oftenly happens in the UK vg. poor Mr Mark Oaten whose (very) special relationship with a polish dancer while he was married forced him to resign. It looks like not much has changed in your island since poor Edward II and Oscar Wilde ‘s sad fate. James Ivory’s Maurice could be studied by high school pupils in case they’d turned journalist or politician.
Very briefly, in favour of Royal: she’s a woman, she’s committed to increasing participation in local-level democracy.
Against: even Sarko has been scoring points against her by claiming smugly that he’s the liberal one – she’s been talking about getting the army in to discipline problem teenagers and he claims at any rate that she wants to restore the ‘double peine’ (see Le Figaro interview, 24 July http://www.lefigaro.fr/france/20060724.FIG000000124_regularisations_ce_que_va_faire_sarkozy.html). Royal lacks national level experience.
Amusing that Paddy Power doesn’t even think DSK is in the running.
I agree with Bruno about the collective lack of charisma; it was suggested to me last week that the way to predict an election winner in France is to ask yourself who you’d most like to have round for dinner. Hence Chirac’s enduring popularity, against the odds. Sarko’s book (out last week) is clearly an attempt to soften his image a bit – hence the gory details about his marriage and its serialisation in Paris Match (I think – or maybe one of the other weeklies). Yuck yuck yuck.
Royal is 100% in the conservatism-ÃƒÂ -la-franÃƒÂ§aise line : she stands againt free-market, she approves of so-called economic patriotism. Her clientele is mainly made of civil sevants (not bad per se) and professions enjoying a monopoly from the state (notary-solicitor, chemist’s, physician etc.). She was one of the most anti-gay-right’s politician of the left, side by side with Jospin. For a “social liberal” person, no progress is to be expected form her … “au contraire !” and i would never dream of comparing her to Hillary Clinton ; Rather a sort of Eva Peron in a more bourgeois-ish style like Edith Cresson. If her husband FranÃƒÂ§ois Hollande (ENA Cour of auditors) had been popular, he would have been a very able candidate (intelligent, courageous and effective). Alas, he’s not a womanizer and his lack of personal charm is a no-go ticket for Presidency in France. Even Sarkozy is in danger because of that.
Were Sego to win next year and if Hillary Rodham Clinton were elected US President in 2009 our world really would have to get in touch with its feminine side at last…..