May 8, 2007
On Sarkozy being elected the French president, Bicycle Mark makes some interesting points:
An old friend of mine in France once said, as much as his fellow citizens would never admit it, the French are very similar to Americans in many things. Every now and then, like in these elections, I think she was right.
He plays on fear. He threatens to be tough on immigrants and to cut taxes and benefits and whatever else he can cut. He goes on and on about national pride and what a great country it is.
From what I know about the French elections, people are unhappy with a number of things such as the high unemployment rate, the 35 hour week (limiting the money people can earn), crime, immigration issues and high taxes.
On that, Madge Weinstien said people people needed to become more media savvy in order not to fall for such fearmongering.
The French have apparently been indocrinated by Western corporate propaganda oozing out of the pores of just about every international news network and especially out of Rupert Turdcock.
This is evidenced not only by an increased need for ‘more and more’ but also by the xenophobia evident in French voter interviews by the New York Times. Fear mongering + Fear of terror + fear of loosing your job+ fear of arabs= this mess we’re all in.
So the US has what, 3.5 unemployment compared to the French’s 10%? Big deal. Do you know how many Americans work at Starbucks for 20 hours a week just to get health insurance. And how many ’employed’ Wal-Mart workers are being subsidised by the US Welfare systems while they work for peanuts?
This is what Europe wants? I don’t think so.
It is surely possible to make social security, national healthcare and fair employment conditions work for all involved. Resentment from things such as immigration often stems from mismanagement or misrepresentation of the situation, not diehard racism. People don’t want their slice of the cake to be smaller. Take the opposite example: economic immigrants can be welcome in a country with a booming economy, as the UK shows (Daily Mail readers aside).
But clearly the French are wound up about these things because a lot of people voted – there was an 85% turnout. Mark goes on to talk about this high voter turnout:
Then again, 85% voting, with more than 50% of them choosing a pretty hardline conservative candidate also makes it hard for a country to deny who they are. At least in the US you can say “hey.. that’s only half of the 40+% that vote who chose that bum, we’re not really like that”. In France, you can’t say that anymore. So if Sarko ends up rounding up all the immigrants and putting them in labor camps. Or joining the US military in its latest adventure to invade and bring democracy somewhere. It won’t be just a small percentage of crazies that took over the government. Nope… it’s a majority of the country that actually shares (at least some of) these values.
That would be true, but from what I know about the French if Sarko actually attempts to do away with any of the things they French get out of their taxes, or take away their hard-won rights, there will be hell to pay. This election result seems more like the classic French “non”. Really, they just want to express that things aren’t working out.
Therefore, this election must surely be a failure of the Left to present ideas that address these issues by opting for the status quo, which is seen not to be working. This failure has allowed Sarkozy to turn it into a binary decision. Well, he’s in for an interesting ride.