Perspective britannique sur les élections françaises

An excellent analysis of the French social and political landscape within the context of the presidential elections from the London Review of Books, by Jeremy Harding.

LRB | Vol. 29 No. 8 dated 26 April 2007 | Jeremy Harding

''Royal’s ratings in the polls have fluctuated, and lately she has flagged. Her niceness quotient has been thinned away by unpleasant stories about her from people who’ve deserted her campaign, and by the popularity of the extremely nice Bayrou. She is desperate to impress business – and to encourage ‘medium and small’ businesses in particular, since large numbers of people will have to invent themselves as earners in the absence of a flourishing labour market between now and 2012. To this end she is promising more and more liberal economic measures and start-up exemptions. She stands, however, for a not very different, still immobilised France where unemployment figures will remain steady even if the low purchasing power of the French earner, which she’d like to improve, means a narrower gap between rich and poor than exists in the lands of sterling and the dollar. She hopes there’ll be French flags in every home, and she is adamant there’ll be security on the streets: she’s a tough love figure, big on law and order, big on boot camps for young offenders. She wants ‘citizens’ juries’ to monitor public policy and public life. At the same time, she has said she’d like to shake down the bureaucracy with its ‘jacobin’ intrusiveness and complexity, but she hasn’t explained what job losses this would entail in the public sector. She is for more spending without raising taxes, and wants to constitute a Sixth Republic with an element of proportional representation for election to the National Assembly and devolution of power to the regions. Beneath the appearance of candour, her policies can seem elusive. In the Middle East last year, she expressed solidarity with the Israelis and the Palestinians. She is worryingly touchy-feely and stands in relation to the Parti Socialiste a little like Blair stood in relation to Old Labour in 1997.''

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Since March 29th 2006