On One Hand

April 22, 2007

French Elections reach Second Round – Woman Holds Baguette

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:59 pm
Tags: , , ,

Sarkozy and Royal take first round

Conservative French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist candidate Segolene Royal will face each other head-on after the first round of the French presidential election selected them as the top two candidates. Bayrou, Le Penn and all other minor party candidates were eliminated by the first-round vote, as Sarkozy, winning about 30 percent of votes, and Royal, with about 24 percent of votes, scored the top two spots needed to continue to the final vote on May 6.

This is good news for Sarkozy, who almost always beats Royal by one or two percentage points in hypothetical face-off polls between the two leading candidates. If Centrist candidate Francois Bayrou had won the first round, Sarkozy would likely lose, since hypothetical face-off polls between Sarkozy and Bayrou showed the Centrist beating Sarkozy by a comfortable margin.

The French run-off process ensures a candidate must get more than 50 percent of the popular vote to win, but it also reveals another important fact about human politics: Centrism is a tough place to fight from in any political landscape. Liberals hoping to beat Sarkozy or Conservatives hoping to beat Royal could have rallied to compromise behind Bayrou, who would have won a sure second-round victory. Instead, Bayrou was eliminated in the first round to maintain a classic Liberal-Conservative clash on May 6. Political environments are often thought of in terms of bell curves, with most people standing firmly in the center, and increasingly fewer people in positions each step farther toward the Left or Right. But this election process shows the landscape to be more or less “flat,” with people spread evenly so that there are just as many voters on the extreme right and the extreme left as there are in the center. This might even indicate that the electorate is truly divided, with most citizens identifying with Liberals or Conservatives and very few voters in the center.

It might also show that ideology and policy are less important than personality in politics – which would ring true for American elections, but also show that the traits that voters prefer are as diverse as their political views. Royal was liked for her femininity, and, well, femaleness by some progressive voters. She is thought of as trendy and hip, yet welcoming and maternal. Sarkozy, meanwhile, is liked for his strength and articuclation, and right-wingers like his Franco-centrist ideas that are touchy toward immigrants and foreigners. Such conservatives are not turned off by his authoritarian tendencies the way liberals are.

Caricatures in action

CNN.com reported the French results and tied it to an interactive Gallery, which included the following picture and caption:

An unidentified French woman holding a baguette and a ballot prepares to vote in Saint-Cloud, outside Paris, on Sunday.

Source: The Associated Press/ CNN

What?! She brought a baguette to vote? It is as if she intended to say yes, I AM French to any American media present to take her picture. I can only assume the choice of this photo for the website over the dozens of alternates was some kind of inside joke among CNN’s web editors. Either that, or this starts a new worldwide trend, so that next Italians will be arriving at the polls carrying cans of tomato sauce and Americans will bring cases of Diet Coke.

Segolene Royal is now the first woman in French presidential history to make it to the second round. She’s made a name for herself in the books, even if she loses to Sarkozy on May 6. But Royal also has some chance at winning – albeit an improbability – since at least a third of French voters report in polls that they are still undecided between the two front runners. Sarkozy is thought to have an authoritarian bent, which makes French voters nervous. Royal is criticized as superficial and naive, but when the diluted media attention on each of more than a dozen candidates crystallizes around Royal and Sarkozy only, the two candidates have a chance to re-define themselves. If Sarkozy slips up – or Royal displays a stellar performance, we could see the polls begin to shift and Segolene Royal become the first woman president of France.

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6 Comments »

  1. An excellent use of the language

    “Either that, or this starts a new worldwide trend, so that next Italians will be arriving at the polls carrying cans of tomato sauce and Americans will bring cases of Diet Coke.”

    That was very sardonic. Still yet I find it charming and mirthful. I enjoy your writing, you should consider having you own domain name. Alas http://www.pizzuti.com is already taken.

    I don’t know if you have any interest in the material, but I would be interested to hear your thoughts and consternations around US Copyright law in regards to original intent versus the more recent changes made at the behest of media companies, and what you think about the role of alternate IP protection systems such as Creative Commons. Mundane I know, but it’s a subject that strikes my fancy and perhaps as a writer it holds some interest for you, enough at least to provide some interesting commentary or perspective. Excellent writing as always, keep it up!

    Cheers!

    -r

    Comment by loungeflyde — April 22, 2007 @ 11:41 pm | Reply

    • Re: An excellent use of the language

      Thanks for your comment. As to your discussion about copyright law, I have no idea what you’re talking about; I know a little about copyrrights but I don’t keep track enough to know what changes are made to it.

      Comment by ononehand — April 23, 2007 @ 3:49 am | Reply

      • Re: An excellent use of the language

        If you’re interested, the gist of the argument revolves around a few key interpretations.

        The Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8) states:

        “The Congress shall have power…To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries…”

        That’s it. That’s the entire constitutional basis for copyright law, patent law, etc. The issue, and where I wonder how you as a writer would weigh in on the subject, concerns the meaning behind two phrases from this, namely “promote the progress of science and useful arts…” and “limited times”.

        Congressional bills passed into laws over the years have extended copyright time from anywhere from 70 years after the author’s death to 90 or 120 years from publication (depending on if it’s work for hire, etc.) depending on a few factors. The Sonny Bono act extended copyright on sound recordings until 2067, but is written in such a way that even sound records that should have gone into the public domain already because it was in existence before the mid 1920s or another country can’t be reliably used a PD docs.

        Boring stuff, I know, but it leads to two interesting intellectual teasers:

        1) A frequent posit is that by lengthening the time a work or invention may be exclusively used by the author we are encouraging the creator to “rest on his laurels” as it were, and not encouraging him/her to use the proceeds from his past work to continue his craft, thereby progressing society. We instead encourage complacency by ensuring that in many cases not only will the creator exclusively benefit for his entire life but we also encourage the apathy of his/her progeny since not only will they but likely the author’s grandchildren will also reap the rewards.

        2) We are discouraging the ingenuity of Americans by allowing large corporations to obtain copyrights and patents for exclusive use that stretch up to and past 100 years, and we compound that by issuing frivolous patents and copyrights for such mundacities such as the method of auctioning on eBay or the position of a clickable button in a piece of computer software. By not being able to build on past work to invent something new, and by allowing patents to be issued for things that just may be called “common sensical” to anyone who develops software but seems pioneering to a patent clerk who can’t figure out his home computer, we have stifled the innovation of our society and will reap the benefits economically in the decades hence.

        Copyright is easy to see – it’s summed up in one legal phrase: “All Rights Reserved.” Creative Commons is an alternative Copyright program that provides for “Some Rights Reserved,” whereas the author or creator is free to reserve just the rights he wants, such as not allowing derivative works, or no commercial use, or requiring attribution, or any combination thereof. It attempts to provide a more relevant and in-tune way to protect an author’s rights but also to allow for greater rights than can be had under the principle of fair use.

        Here’s some links if it’s a subject that interests you – I don’t know how it will turn out but there are certainly some interesting points to be made regarding the state of copyright law in this country. Wikipedia has a decent enough summary as well naturally.

        Sorry to ramble – thanks again for the erudite writing, I enjoy reading!

        Consumer Stays Out in Copyright Cold – WSJ

        Copyright Infringement in Education

        Comment by loungeflyde — April 24, 2007 @ 12:37 am

  2. I always vote with my cowboy hat, American flag tie, and statue of liberty torch.

    Comment by jdhenchman — April 23, 2007 @ 3:33 am | Reply

    • Lol… OK I see how the cowboy hat is American, but the other two are just farfetched.

      Comment by ononehand — April 24, 2007 @ 5:02 am | Reply

  3. Ségolène !!

    Well, I am french and a Young Socialist.
    Well if we don’t win, Sarkozy will make France a dictatorship !!
    Ségolène or we’ll be seriously in danger !
    Don’t want him as a president, I would be so ashamed…
    I hope we’ll make the (only one !!) good choice, although I am too young to vote 😦

    PS : the pic is so caricatural, I was rofl !

    Comment by Anonymous — April 26, 2007 @ 7:50 pm | Reply


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