29 March 2007
France is having a presidential election next month. The front-runner is former interior minister Nicholas Sarkozy. His closest rival was supposed to be the Socialist Segolene Royal, but now opinion polls have her in a dead heat with Francois Bayrou, who is trying to mend France's traditional left-right split by pulling moderates from both sides to his downhome centrism. And of course, there's also France's avuncular far-right racist Jean le Pen, who shocked everyone a few years ago by finishing in the top two of the prelim and therefore going into the run off. Not to be discounted.
In France they run one big heat and the first two candidates 'past the post' go on into a death match style battle for title of 'Ultimate Ruler of France.'
There's plenty of subpolots in the race, but the real battle to watch leading up to the first round of voting is that between law-and-order front runner Sarkozy and restless angry suburban youth.
Remember the days of rioting in French suburbs from fall 2005? It seems that the interior minister didn't endear himself to the rioters when he made speeches denouncing them as 'thugs,' and vowing to get rid of them. That really did 2 things. One of which is 'aboslutely nothing at all, in a practical sense' and the other is 'completely piss off an already pissed off demographic group.'
Now the 'thugs' are looking to get even, by vowing to rid Frence's presidential race of Sarkozy. Sarkozy has been pelted with rocks and bottles when he's visited the suburbs, particularly Argenteuil where he made his comments two years ago. He hasn't been back since. For a guy who claims to have made France safer, and have restored law and order to its lawless corners...well, there's a credibility gap to be sure.
I'd like to see egg-on-face of self-important smug hardliner on election day. And sweeter still if the faceful of come-uppance was served to him by a recently motivated group of outcasts. I love it when the youth make a difference.