lunes, 30 de abril de 2007

Sobre las elecciones en Francia

May 2007 134 » Web exclusive » Now for round two
Prospect Magazine

The first round of the French presidential election threw up a few surprises. But now it's a straight fight—and Sarkozy has the upper hand

Tim King
Tim King is a writer living in France

In France, the usual justification for having a first round in the presidential election, full of fringe candidates, is that it gives the electorate a chance to let off steam. By voting for outsiders, it is thought they purge their frustration with the establishment, giving them the serenity they need to vote like responsible citizens a fortnight later. If that is true, then this Sunday was a democratic washout: fully three quarters of the votes were “useful”—that is, for a candidate who had a good chance of becoming president—a figure which excludes the 10 per cent who voted for Le Pen. This meant a hammering for the eight far left and right candidates, as well as the probable death of the Communist and the Green parties as electorally viable entities. Thus next time there may be less choice—which for some means less democracy.

The most surprising figure to emerge from Sunday is that more women voted for Nicolas Sarkozy (32 per cent) than for Ségolène Royal (27 per cent). Surprising because Royal is one of the first women candidates for high office in France to be relaxed in her femininity, rather than presenting herself as a man in drag. This is most obvious in her non-verbal behaviour: she’ll give a little girl’s run-and-skip for joy, she’ll walk along with her arm around someone’s waist, she'll have a fit of giggles on camera. Such behaviour is, in fact, the key to her success; she gained most of her popularity in France before ever having expressed a political idea—which earned her the reputation among male socialists of not having any. Contrast with, say, Margaret Thatcher or Golda Meir, who consciously tried to beat men at their own game.

Royal did better than Sarkozy among the 18-34 age group and among the middle classes, always the bedrock of French socialism. Les ouvriers (workers) gave her short shrift (one vote in five). Sarkozy, on the other hand, took the older vote—particularly the over-70s (46 per cent), an important constituency in an ageing society like France. He also took the traditional right—farmers, managing directors, artisans—and did well among salaried employees. Unlike Royal’s, his vote was evenly spread.

Clearly both candidates need as many as possible of François Bayrou’s 7m voters. This will be harder for Royal: Bayrou’s party, the UDF, has been closer to Sarkozy's UMP than to the Socialists—indeed some UDF députés were elected only thanks to deals with the UMP. Yet unless Royal succeeds here, she has no chance against Sarkozy’s substantial 5.31 point lead. She will pick up the assorted extreme left, but these represent less than 10 per cent, taking her to perhaps 36 per cent—way off a majority.

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Ver también:

Is Socialism Liberal? Democracy and French Socialist Ideas
By Marc Sadoun
Dissent, Spring 2007

ARGUMENTS ABOUT the intellectual relationship between socialism and liberalism (understood in the European sense) are probably familiar to most left-wing Americans. To left-wing Europeans, and for the French in particular, it’s a difficult matter. The idea that there is a positive relation between socialist and liberal concepts is scandalous in some quarters. Liberals are viewed by them as class enemies and false friends who threaten socialist integrity.

It is true that economic liberalism in its brutal “laissez-faire” sense is opposed to any traditional socialist ethos. Socialist movements emerged in the nineteenth century in reaction against liberal capitalism. Socialists saw in it only a deceptive form of liberty and advocated instead the socialization of the means of production and economic equality. They argued that no real liberty could exist without equality, and no democracy was real without socialism. Social democrats still agree today on these points, more or less, even if they temper them with inevitable compromises needed to get elected and to govern.


Difficult as it is for them to admit it, acceptance of the market economy marked a socialist initiation rite into the tribes of liberalism. Already in 1979, Lionel Jospin (later a Socialist Party prime minister) declared a willingness to compromise “on the issues of reform versus revolution, state and civil society, centralized state versus local institutions, capital versus labor, regulation of the economy by the market versus planned economies, private capital versus the public sector.” In reality, there were never real compromises, only acceptance—if not unconditional—of liberal values. We don’t yet know what this implies if Ségolène Royal wins the presidency. But we should also point out that as socialists took liberal steps, French liberals took steps in the direction of socialism during this same period, accepting progressively some essential ideas of social democracy. Both camps changed in interaction with each other. Socialist politics gave liberalism a sense of social solidarity and pushed liberals to cede real decision-making power to citizens in many domains. Socialists and liberals come from different ideological traditions, and, when they met in twentieth-century France, the consequence was an uncertain but original democratic equilibrium. Its fate is now in the balance.

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2 comentarios:

Carlos Eduardo Pérez Crespo dijo...


Justo tb he puesto algunos links sobre las elecciones en Francia, quizás el de los 12 puntos en debate sea lo más interesante.



Hernán Campaniello dijo...

Hola, mi nombre es Hernan, soy periodista y junto a mi colega Alejo estamos realizando un blog sobre las elecciones francesas desde Paris, si les interesa pegarle un vistazo