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05 May 2007 Blog Home : May 2007 : Permalink

Riots If Sarko Wins?

Ségolène Royal, threatens a violent uprising if conservative Nicolas Sarkozy wins the French presidency on Sunday.

"Choosing Nicolas Sarkozy would be a dangerous choice," Royal told RTL radio.

"It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of (his) candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country (if he won)," she said.

Pressed on whether there would actually be violence, Royal said: "I think so, I think so," referring specifically to France's volatile suburbs hit by widespread rioting in 2005.

 Big Lizards worries that this could be something similar to the Mexican election where Manuel Lopez Obrador refused to accept the result. Even if there are riots I think he's wrong that Sego will use them or their threat to claim that the election is invalid for two reasons.
  1. The Mexicans have had lots and lots of rumours about rigged elections. Even though the most recent election was actually fairer than any previous one this background means that people can believe that the election is rigged. Such an environment does not exist in France so the "we woz robbed" justification won't fly
  2. Sego isn't threatening violence rather warning that some people in the suburbs will riot. In other words she won't be out in the front of the barricades when the riots happen. And she isn't alone in worrying that the banlieues will be upset.
As it happens, Powerline links to a WaPo story that provides evidence that some of the residents themselves think a riot would be a good idea if Sarko is elected.

Calina, the son of immigrants from Senegal, voiced the concern of many here: "There are going to be riots if Sarkozy is elected.[...]

"Tony Essono, 32, an unemployed economist whose parents emigrated from Cameroon before he was born, said that despite years of anger and discrimination, people in La Courneuve were willing to put their faith in the ballot box "because they understand they can change something" by voting. But, he added, "if Sarkozy is elected, it means we haven't been heard, and we'll trash everything."

So, will the suburbs explode in violence again? Possibly, but probably any riot will be little more than the usual weekend fun and games. It is worth recalling that we've already had the riot at the Gare du Nord this year and that every night cars are torched in suburbs all over France so any "explosion of anger" is likely to be more in the eyes of the beholder than anywhere else.

More to the point I think that doing so will not directly aid their cause, although paradoxically it may end up helping a great deal. If there are riots then Sarko will use them to push through reforms that the rioters and their socialist sympathisers object to. As the WaPo article explains:

[Some residents] believe[s] the violence is a result of poor education, high unemployment, inadequate housing and low-paying jobs. Sarkozy, with his promises of tax cuts and free-market reforms, "wants the rich to be richer and the poor to work harder"

If Sarko is able to use the riots as a way to push through these reforms without too many protests from the usual left wing nut cases then the riots will have been a good thing. There is no doubt that those who object to his ideas do indeed think that they will just make the rich richer and the poor work harder, but given that France, and particulalry the poor French banlieues, have a huge unemployment rate making the poor work hard could be as simple as making the unemployed work. This would of course drastically cut unemployment and be  something that everyone agrees would be a good idea, even though many of them reject the welfare reform and "macjob" approach to doing so.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin