Sunday, April 22, 2007
Doktor Sarkozy, Madam Royal.....
I participated in an outdoor art show today in a glorious garden in the middle of the woods with a view of the Chateau de Fleurac on the hill in the distance. The exhibiting artists were an eclectic group. A Belgian woman sculptress, An American making furniture, French man who made wonder Raku pottery, an Englishman making small polished objects out of wood and stone, a French woman who sculptted in clay and another woman who made incredible welded metal planters that had real personality, each on was like a distinct alien being with a complimenting cactus...and an older French couple who I met before, the wife makes very beautiful lampshades and her husband, very beautiful polished wood objects, some of which are lamp bases for the shades.
My wife voted this morning on our way to the show. She remarked that at 8:30 am, the voting box already had a lot of ballots. At the show, no one spoke of politics. We had a group lunch around 1pm and I was sitting next to the older couple and their son. I was joking with everyone in my present level of conversational French...everything works fine and then occasionally I hit a wall, and out of the blue, the son of the older couple asks me "and you, a foreigner, if you could vote, who would you vote for?"
For a second I was taken aback, that's a question that might be in bad taste at so volatile a time, in such an international group. Wthout battiing an eyelash, I replied,"Segolene Royal, bien sur!" Then the fellow asked me why? I jokingly replied, that I thought she was the most beautiful candidate!
Janet immediately jumped in, because she realized that I was being played a fool by the fellow, She launched into a very detailed analysis of Royals positions and why she admired her. He was a little over whelmed by the passion of her position, the command of facts and the fact that she probably speaks much more correct and eloquent French than he does. I don't speak elegant or correct French, but I do speak well enough especially after a few glasses of rose in the hot sun...I added that this election was a good example of how George Bush was elected and if Nikolas Sarkozy was elected, I would never take anyone seriously again who asked me, "How could Americans elect a president like George Bush?"
There was a silence, then a few of the people applauded and told me I made a lot of sense and I joked that I was happy that I could at least express my opinions.
The questioner was silent. After lunch, a number of people came up to me and explained that the son who had questioned me was a Front National Militant and was running for office and they were afraid to speak up in front of him because of the fear they have of their reputation of fascistic violence and backlash.
I made a point of hanging out with his father later and talking to him about printmaking and where he gets his supply of boxwood from and then bought one of his carved wooden pieces. Every one was smiles...but I left with the knowlege of how deep the fear of the FN is and how it lurks beneath the surface here in the country.
We got home and turned on the TV...It was 7:30 and there was a half hour of suspense as we waited nervously for the elction returns...then suddenly, the results came up!
26.4% for Segolene and 29.6% for Sarkozy! The results are still vascillating a 10th of a point here and there, but it is done. The Front National, which every one feared could pull some kind of an upset, never got past 10%, Bayrou was third with 16%
It was the largest voter turnout in French history! 86% of the registered vopters showed up. A number unheard of in America!
Sarkozy has been running for president for 4 years. He has allied himself through his brother with big businesss and the mainstream media. He has been ruthless in crushing his opponents and using his power to coherce supporters to come to him or face destruction. He has played the card of fear over and over again and appealed to basest instincts of racism to woo voters from the FN! He has been omnipresent in the media. He has recieved covert assistance from the Bush administration in his campaign.
Segolene started to campaign a year ago and has pretty much run the campaign by her instincts without much support by the elephants in the socialist party. She has been attacked constantly in the press. She was attacked by all the small party candidtes on the left. Through it all, she has remained strong, serene and toally positive . She has shown that she is Mitterands political heiress. She has offered France a clear alternative to the darkness of Sarkozy. He wants France to get up earlier, work harder and expect less. He wants to take away social programs and close the borders.
He wants to ally himself with American foreign policy. He said recently of his foreign policy,"Sometimes I feel more Amreican than French!"
I believe that given such a clear choice, between light and dark, between the future and fear, that Segolene will win the 2nd tour of the election. She will challenge Sarko to a debate and she will win. If he refuses to debate, he will look like he is afraid of her. Segolene is deadly in debate.
As the commentator said on Channel 3 this evening when she made her speech dressed in white against a white background,"She has the stature now! She has evolved into a leader before our eyes!" Sarkozy made his speech earlier, dark circles and red eyes, looking vaguely Nixonian, talking about the fear of the French people and how, if they would let him, he would protect them....pretty creepy, huh?