Sarko vs. Royal, Don't Read if You Don't Give A Phoque About French Presidential Politics

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for some reason they never talk about sarkozy's "gaffes"

Sarkozy's "gaffe" about paedophilia being genetic was hardly ignored, it was a huge media story! I'm not so convinced it was a gaffe as such, though. It's a bit like "racaille" and "karcher". On the face of it gaffes, but ultimately they've bolstered his image and support. That's not to say Sarkozy hasn't made some serious errors; he has. But not nearly as many as Royal. As for sexism, yes I think it's played a part as well, perhaps slicing one or two percentage points off Royal's vote. (It cuts both ways though. The novelty value of having a woman candidate probably gave her a slight edge over the "éléphants" during the candidacy election.)

underpants of the gods, Monday, 23 April 2007 11:50 (7 years ago) Permalink

it's a detail, but the Royal quote about the Talibans is much more ambiguous than that. She argues that the international community should do more against the "taliban system", which could mean the movement itself. Anyway, yeah these "gaffes" stories are grotesque and just feeds the typical French dream of an omniscient professor/candidate. The type of reasoning that has given us Juppé, Villepin, etc.

baaderonixx, Monday, 23 April 2007 12:56 (7 years ago) Permalink

Narrative: Royal is flighty, air-headed, not "serious", unreliable - a woman. Everything she says, if seen through this lens, can be made to back it up. The Taliban "gaffe" being a particularly egregious example of the way these things work.

None of this is to deny that there does seem to be a real interest in an authoritarian leader in France.

Tracer Hand, Monday, 23 April 2007 13:05 (7 years ago) Permalink

There is, but I still nevertheless find Royal to be a pretty weak candidate. The contrast last night between Sarkozy's "victory" speech and hers was pretty emblematic of why she's gonna get trounced in the 2nd round. A cheap but effective "look at me now ma', I made it to the top, all thanks to the French dream" vs. a dull, awkwardly-read rant so predictable that hardly anyone will remember today.

baaderonixx, Monday, 23 April 2007 13:11 (7 years ago) Permalink

I was going to mention her awful like-a-robot-reading speech of yesterday, too.

I'm sympathetic to the idea that the right have basically rolled out Tracer Hand's "narrative". But I don't think it's been swallowed hook line and sinker by the French media. And I don't think that this attempt to manipulate the discourse changes the fact that she's been a poor candidate and that's much of the reason she's not going to be elected. In any case, even if her gaffes are trivial matters of presentation (although I think there's a little more to it than that), a good candidate should nonetheless be able to maintain some control over presentation. The narrative of "woman candidate = helpless victim of machinations" is just as mythical as the one Tracer outlined.

underpants of the gods, Monday, 23 April 2007 13:21 (7 years ago) Permalink

the main reason I wanted carcetti (royal) to win was so there might be some chance of clay davis (chirac) getting what he deserves

that's the only level on which that "THE WIRE"-based analogy works, though

RJG, Monday, 23 April 2007 13:28 (7 years ago) Permalink

I've not heard that particular narrative repeated or put forward by anyone. So I guess that makes it a REALLY mythical narrative. Especially since so many male political hopefuls have been trashed in exactly the same way (interestingly, often by being painted as feminized, e.g. Gore and his female advisor who purportedly tried to teach him to be an "alpha male"; John Kerry and his suspicious "sophistication"; John "Breck Girl" Edwards' haircuts are a recent example). These aren't mythical narratives, they're real and they change the course of history. Royal is supposed to be a lightweight, to not understand the gravity of her position; the implication is that she will embarrass France in front of the world with her unreliability - all incredibly gendered narratives, and all deployed relentlessly by her opponents. The press frames ongoing events within this narrative simply because it fits in neatly with how a lot of French people think about women in positions of tangible political power. It just FEELS so right. Once the narrative gets set, it is incredibly hard to shift. Mainly because the press are literally lazy. Why do comparative policy analysis, compare public opinion on specific policy issues with those of the candidates, etc. when one can just bolt the latest trivia onto the pre-existing narrative, pretending that each insignificant nugget represents some telling clue into the candidate's soul. Why go through the trouble of looking at what each of the candidates has actually said and what the implications of those things are for France's future when one can pore over incredibly important things like whose pre-runoff speech was more convincing?

Tracer Hand, Monday, 23 April 2007 13:45 (7 years ago) Permalink

i'm sure if france had a 2-party tradition, the center-left would never have put up a bayrou instead of the politically clueless royal and we would be right here in the same place, only faster. comment on dit "electability"?

gabbneb, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:29 (7 years ago) Permalink

let's also take a moment of thanks for the protesters and the great revolution they led

gabbneb, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:31 (7 years ago) Permalink

Bayrou's party (UDF) isn't center-left, it's right-wing! As for the rest of your post, and the one that follows it, I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about.

Tracer Hand, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:37 (7 years ago) Permalink

x-post

Absolutely. And her eloquence is just another part of this narrative.
Jospin was just like her : his speechs were cold, rigid, he couldn't communicate with people,etc... he was a robot ! that's what we used to say. But what did it mean ? it meant he was serious, he wasn't a demagogue (and no i didn't find sarkozy's speech "cheap and effective" yesterday but truly disgusting). (and not only Jospin but also Juppé, Rocard...)
But with Royal it's another evidence of her weakness.

brunob, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:39 (7 years ago) Permalink

and i'm not saying all these attacks are sexist. as Tracer said this strategy was also used against men, i'm just saying it worked pretty well because she's a woman.

brunob, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:42 (7 years ago) Permalink

Hmmm, I'm having mixed feelings on this issue, ie. robot vs demagogue. I agree with you that on the substance, Sarkozy's speech was as repulsive as all his previous statements, but "sur la frome" the contrats between someone (seemingly) speaking without notes with Royal's drone was pretty striking. Sure, one can always argue that it's not with eloquence that you run a country, but it sure helps when trying to win an election.

baaderonixx, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:48 (7 years ago) Permalink

This is so depressing. Even in Paris Le Pen got 11%. I was talking with the lovely Emma B about this, expressing my dismay and confusion that 11% of Parisian voters would vote that way and saying that a third-party right-wing presidential candidate in the US would never get 11% of the vote in New York City, for instance, and she reminded me that "Paris is a very conservative city".

-- Tracer Hand, Monday, 23 April 2007 09:48 (4 hours ago)

I used to think think, too, but then I actually read Le Pen's program closely (and the other guy De Villiers as well) and realized that in concrete terms none of this even compares to the Bush presidency. A comparison with a US extreme right-wing is difficult to make for that reason; Le Pen's immigration policy doesn't consist of building a wall around the country (though he admires the one in Mexico), and on the environment he's actually like a Green Party candidate compared to Bush.

riche, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:50 (7 years ago) Permalink

I saw Sarko's speech lastnight as a premature declaration of victory, as he was literally imitating Chirac's actions when he won the actual presidency. Given the French attitude on such things, I assumed Ségolène was going for the classier, humbler approach and betting on Sarko's (quite visible) glee betraying him. He does give a much better speech though.

riche, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:52 (7 years ago) Permalink

not much point is there?

crosspost

RJG, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:53 (7 years ago) Permalink

xpost

Tracer, the fact that the Right is trying to paint Royal as a lightweight using a gendered narrative is not in doubt. It's connected to, but different from, the question of whether she actually is a lightweight. By all means let's do comparative policy analyses and compare public opinion on specific policy issues. I'm not arguing that her policies are wrong; in fact I think they're more right than wrong. I'm arguing that she's been an incredibly weak advocate for them. A leader must also be able to effectively sell his or her project to the people it is going to impact on, otherwise nothing happens (vide: every French government ever going back on reform once they encounter street opposition). In other words, presentation matters very much to actual outcomes, as you rightly say, and a good leader is one who is able to seize the narrative. That Royal has been largely unable to do this, and has been unable to project an image of competency, is in itself a sign of poor leadership. It's simply too easy to blame this on some sort of media/right-wing collusion, particularly in a country where the media is less right-wing than in Britain and the United States.

underpants of the gods, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:55 (7 years ago) Permalink

Paris results here :
http://www.paris.fr/portail/viewmultimediadocument?multimediadocument-id=29058

brunob, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:59 (7 years ago) Permalink

I guess not, RJG (xpost.)

It's difficult to judge, but I actually think the "gendered narrative" is not a huge factor, and the "omg socialists commie reds taking over" vs. "liberalism = we're all rich" is the bigger issue everyone always comes back to here. Which is politics in a nutshell since um, forever it seems.

riche, Monday, 23 April 2007 14:59 (7 years ago) Permalink

particularly in a country where the media is less right-wing than in Britain and the United States

i'm not so sure. actually i think it's even worse, the right comparison is probably italy and berlusconi

brunob, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:01 (7 years ago) Permalink

Come on. There's no Fox News in France.

underpants of the gods, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:04 (7 years ago) Permalink

of course. i meant maybe less right-wing but also less independant. it doesn't matter how much right-wing they are as long as they support sarko.

brunob, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:06 (7 years ago) Permalink

What do you mean by less independent?

riche, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:13 (7 years ago) Permalink

Don't forget that France's ONLY daily left-wing newspaper has been working with a skeleton crew for months now, and is still printing only because the employees raised holy hell, demanding to stay open until the elections. Dark mutterings have been voiced about the possibility that Lib&233#;'s swift collapse following its acquisition by Eduoard de Rothschild (not exactly a progressive dude) might have been... the point of the acquisition in the first place.

Tracer Hand, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:22 (7 years ago) Permalink

um, Lib&233# = Libé

Tracer Hand, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:22 (7 years ago) Permalink

GAH

Tracer Hand, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:22 (7 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, true. Also true that the country's "paper of record", Le Monde, is centre-left. Also, newspapers are probably a lot less important in France than the UK, they have a much smaller readership.

underpants of the gods, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:25 (7 years ago) Permalink

what i meant (x-post)

a) a long tradition of deference toward the political power in place
b) the fact that sarko is a close friend of several big "patrons de presse" (sorry i don't know the english word) : Lagardere, Rothschild...

brunob, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:26 (7 years ago) Permalink

Press barons

Michael White, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:33 (7 years ago) Permalink

Le Monde is about as center-left as the New York Times, i.e. not really

Tracer Hand, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:34 (7 years ago) Permalink

A girl told me she submitted a blank vote, as in an empty ballot. What is the point of this? Why not just stay home? Can anyone explain it?

riche, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:35 (7 years ago) Permalink

Thanks Michael.
yeah i disagree with Le monde being centre-left. It used to be but now Plenel left and both Minc and Colombani officially support Sarkozy.

brunob, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:37 (7 years ago) Permalink

(btw hi baaderonixx!! how's belgium?)

riche, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:40 (7 years ago) Permalink

xpost

The deference thing is true. You'd never get a French version of Jeremy Paxman, that's for sure.

On the other hand, there is also a tradition of investigative journalism particularly with satirical magazines like Charlie Hebdo and Le Canard Enchainé, which regularly break political stories and uncover political scandals.

<i>Le Monde is about as center-left as the New York Times, i.e. not really</i>

Well, maybe it's no longer centre-left, but it's not exactly right wing either. I guess we'll soon see who it comes out for.

underpants of the gods, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:41 (7 years ago) Permalink

I'm not sure you could really identify an editorial line in Le Monde, but it sure does seem to have an agenda (most of the time, helping those in power to stay there, cf. Balladur in 1995). The fact that Minc is pretty explicit in his support of Sarko, combined with Colombani's recent editorial, would seem to confirm this.

baaderonixx, Monday, 23 April 2007 15:50 (7 years ago) Permalink

Only one percent of Muslims voted for Sarko.

Michael White, Monday, 23 April 2007 17:42 (7 years ago) Permalink

who did Muslims vote for?

-- curious and non-francophone

gff, Monday, 23 April 2007 18:07 (7 years ago) Permalink

64% for Ségolène Royal. 19% for François Bayrou. 8% for Besancenot.

Michael White, Monday, 23 April 2007 18:26 (7 years ago) Permalink

islamarxism in effect!! or maybe don't call people trash if you want their support.

i had a crazy half-idea that sarko's frank assholism had actually earned him some respect among immigrants but this was probably some right wing fantasy i read somewhere

gff, Monday, 23 April 2007 18:31 (7 years ago) Permalink

When you 'get tough' on crime in poor neighborhoods, you'll always get a certain amount of sympathy from the people who most feel victimized by what the French euphemistically call 'insecurity', but he's been not so much firm as just mean about it and alientated a lot more people than he had to.

Michael White, Monday, 23 April 2007 18:45 (7 years ago) Permalink

It also shouldn't be forgotten that Sarkozy in effect brokered the creation of the French Muslim Council (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2593623.stm, and according to The Economist at least, is in favour of affirmitive action for immigrants. I think until the final round we'll see him to trying to mend some bridges now that Le Pen is out of the way.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, Monday, 23 April 2007 19:19 (7 years ago) Permalink

Sarko has come out for affirmative action in a republic which is famously color-blind and now that he basically has the FN voters in his pocket, he undoubtedly will try to seduce some UDF voters. Bayrou is going to announce his choice on Wednesday, apparently.

Michael White, Monday, 23 April 2007 19:24 (7 years ago) Permalink

in a republic which is famously color-blind

I really can't tell whether you're being sarcastic with that or not. This is a country where 11% of the electorate voted for a outright racist.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, Monday, 23 April 2007 20:12 (7 years ago) Permalink

I didn't say country, I said republic.

The first article of the present constitution reads, "La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. Elle assure l'égalité devant la loi de tous les citoyens sans distinction d'origine, de race ou de religion." (France is an indivisble, secular, democratic and social republic. It assures the equality before the law of all citizens without distinction of their origin, race or religion.) This has been held to mean that, unlike the U.S., which has tracked people based on their stated race, the French Republic will not do this. Very high minded, perhaps, but it also means that no affirmative action based on race or religion or national origin has been tried.

Michael White, Monday, 23 April 2007 20:30 (7 years ago) Permalink

Looks like 53% for Sarko with a record 86% of voters going to the polls.

Michael White, Sunday, 6 May 2007 18:20 (6 years ago) Permalink

Royal has conceded

stet, Sunday, 6 May 2007 18:49 (6 years ago) Permalink

how is she conceding so early? shouldn't this stuff last until 5am or summat?

Gukbe, Sunday, 6 May 2007 19:41 (6 years ago) Permalink

pwned

gershy, Sunday, 6 May 2007 20:09 (6 years ago) Permalink

people are horrible

RJG, Sunday, 6 May 2007 22:07 (6 years ago) Permalink

Racaille!

jim, Sunday, 6 May 2007 22:09 (6 years ago) Permalink


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