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The Shadow of the Olive Tree

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02 May 2007 Blog Home : May 2007 : Permalink

The Hunt For Cecilia and Other Tales

Tonight we get what will, I think, be the key to the French presidential elections - the TV debatre between Sego and Sarko. I'm going to watch and provide commentary afterwards but this is really the place where either campaign could collapse. My hope is that the errors will be made by the "gaffe-prone" Sego but it is far from impossible that Sarko will insert foot in mouth in some disastrous way. Anticipated viewership for this debate which is broadcast on two TV channels is expected to be over 20M or, in other words, 1/3rd of France. Given that the race is close with Sarko having no more than a slight edge, any perceived goof by either candidate is likely to be fatal.

So no pressure then.

Of course, and this is really really important, because some 20M will watch it, the spinners will have a hard time conducting post debate spin to "clarify" points. Critically the journalists and pundts are going to need to show considerable dexterity if they are not to appear to have a sinister agenda of their own. (And yes there is a most excellent double entendre in that sentence)

Everyone knows that this debate is key so the coverage of the 2nd round race up to now has been bland and minimal. Le Pen told his voters not to vote for either candidate, whereas the loony lefties have told their voters to back Royal. The campaigns made the usual predictable statements with regard to May day. And the cartoonist Delize made a far better comment (although I suspect the Karcher company could do without the cartoon):
Cleaning up on may 1

Le Pen also brought up something that has been murmured about here and there, namely the invisibility of Cecilia Sarkozy recently. To the extent that any one in France cares I think that this whispering campaign is likely to do Sarko more good than harm. Everyone knows that Sego's non-hubby is supremely dischuffed about seeing his "partner" become president and everyone knows that Sarko and spouse have been having a somewhat rocky marriage. So one suspects that the majority of French voters, to the extent that they give a damn about the story will perceive it as the sinister machinations of the establishment against Sarko. Much the same, it seems to me, applies to a good deal of the other commentary on the campaign to date.

Another uninteresting non-story in the camapign has been the Bayrou "won't go away" story. After coming third, Bayrou wanted to have TV debates with both Sego and Sarko, Sego agreed, Sarko didn't and pointed out that Bayou has lost and was therefore irrelevant to the 2nd round. This meant that the TV channel was asked stop the Sego-Bayrou debate on the grounds that equal time laws meant that Sarko would need to have an equivalent media slot and he didn't want one. There was all sorts of whispering about Sarko putting pressure on the TV channel etc etc all of which conveniently overlooked the critical point which was that Sarkozy saw no need to suck up to Bayrou. In fact Sarko has made minimal attempts to suck up to either Le Pen or Bayrou voters. He has hinted that Sego is nutty left and that therefore it makes sense to vote for him but he hasn't done the sort of policy change that people predicted he would do. Essentially he has staked out his policy platform and said "take it or leave it"

This brings me back to two points I have made before. Despite all the huffing and puffing about being the first female candidate, Sego really is little different from any other French politician over the last 50 years in both attitude and policies, whereas Sarko, although at least as ambitious as any other pol, is actually looking to change things. The French establishment probably fears Sarko more than Sego and the commentariat has been (accidentally) making their biases on this issue clear for months and at least some part of the French electorate has realized this. If the French electorate really wants change Sarko will be voted in.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin