A week after my first election explanation post. It's been a wild week. Last Sunday, The UMP Coronation of Nikola Sarkosi as it's official candidate. It was a coronation because he was the only candidate and basically it was a big rah rah rah rally to show numbers and party unity. It was a very publicized event in an American way. They trumpeted that 8 specially rented TGVs were bringing members from all over France. There was a huge stage for the little man with huge Video screens. During the show they trumpeted numbers of 50,000, 80,000 and 100,000 at the show and Nikola was supposed to have gotten 70% of the vote.
They came out swinging with smears in the American tradition of fiscal wrong doing by Segoulene and her Husband. Charges which were imediately denied, but served to put them on the defensive immediately. Sarkozi made a number of photo ops for TV, appaering in the midst of his entourage posse of media and body guards.
The day of the big UMP show, Segoulene appeared on French news at a farm in the Charente holding a lamb, very relaxed talking with people.
So began a week of attacks and bluster by the UMP. The low point was on an evening talk/news program on Canal+ with an appearance by the spokesperson for Mme Royale and a Deputy from the UMP for Sarkozi. The Socialist spokesman was totally unprepared and the UMP deputy was untethered and spitting fire. She wouldn't let the Socialist finish a sentence and I could tell the guy was really ratttled. He tried to make a tragic joke about Segoulenes weak point being her partner, who is the Socialist party Leader. This was met by embarrassed silence by everyone including the UMP Deputy who couldn't believe her own ears.
By mid week, though, the sparkle was wearing off Sarko. People are asking, how can he be Interior Minister and campaign for president at the same time? How do you separate the two? We saw various UMP reps on various shows making unprecedented personal attacks on Mme Royale which is a new thing here. They are trying politics, American style.
Tonight, though, Segoulene was in the news and gave an interview on TF1 in which she shined! She also has been meeting with all the associations in France personally, that will be over 5,000 personal appearances by Feb 10th. The UMP and Sarkozi were shown to have lied about the number of people at their event. The 100,000 became less than 30,000. After the "event" Sarko jumped 4 points in the polls. Now they are evening off and I think the quiet reasoned humanism of Segoulene is going to come to the fore front again. The political humor shows are being deadly with Sarkozi!
The campaign hasn't officially started yet, and when it does, all coverage of the candidates will be strictly timed and monitored. This is a real interesting race already, a real show of opposites and how American nasty political style can be defeated by realistic humanism in a country where politics are more than just sound bites!