France: voting for the least harmful

Just finished watching the TV debate between Ségolène and Nicolas on France 2 (nice webstream). I was quite surprised by the aggressive style of Mrs Royal, putting Mr Sarkozy in a slightly favourable position of defending his positions and achievements. Personally, she didn’t impress, while he gave a show of self-confidence and presidentialsm. Sorry Ségolène, the performance had its good moments, but you should have played softer to my mind.

Europe was given 10 minutes of slogans, nothing of real notice. Typical referendum vs. mini-treaty debate and Turkey.

My bet would be: Sarkozy will be more presidential than De Gaulle (as noted by FT recently) giving the French a tough lesson of economics, while Segolene might end up with a right-wing parliament, thus unable to put in place her few reforms promised. If something goes wrong with Sarkozy while he’s in power, he can do serious damage, with Royal we know already now she will be harmless. And perhaps we can even get a decent chance for a start of the reform of the French republic.

Meanwhile BBC reported 80% of voters in France have decided already. But I wonder: if the audience was really so high, this might change. The change of tone of Ségolène was noticeable.

ADD: The complete transcript of the debate in French was put on-line by Liberation. Very prompt.

4 thoughts on “France: voting for the least harmful”

  1. Dear Marko,

    I have not watched the debate myself as after the whole campaign it is obvious that Mr. Sarkozy is a highly dangerous character and must be stopped at all costs.

    He is a nationalist, he is authoritarian, he has used the themes of the National Front to get his votes… He has criticized the Euro.

    Although Segolene is not my first choice I was glad to see her show some fighting spirit when debatting with an extremely right wing candidate.

    I doubt the debate will have much influence on the result and I hope that the least harmful, Segolene Royal, will prevail.


  2. Hey Marko!

    I actually disagree with you on a general true, while I accept that actually Segolene was a bit too aggressive –indeed from a hot-blooded Spaniard, that’s not such a bad sin!–, from a content perspective actually she was able to articulate a more global and modern speech and get into deep into a real debate: in her answers, the line exposition-argument-refutation took place.

    In a way, I learnt much more of the Socialist programme of Segolene than from what it seemed to be a reform here and there from Sarkozy. En plus, he was criticizing the government, to which he belongs… really, even if he stayed calm, he lost my respects since my fears were confirmed: he doesn’t have a programme and no real new ideas.


  3. I think you are too harsh Marko. Sarkozy was smug and patronising (saying ‘Madame’ all the time) and Royal needed to show more strength – she’s been too weak over the course of the campaign.

    I’m more worried by the fact that Royal seemed to answer almost everything with the need to ask the Social Partners!


  4. VXL: Royal also isn’t innocent in criticising Euro and the European Central Bank. Equally, her position on Turkey changed yesterday if I’m not wrong. She stated that she is against them entering, but in favour of continued negotiations. For the rest I agree, Sarkozy is a political danger.

    Patricia: Hm, my knowledge of French is far from perfect, but I think Sarkozy was more calm and concise when explaining what he wants to change. He was firm on public sector and 35 hours, where Royal was vague (although she attacked the 35 hours before).

    Jon: Yes, true. Sarkozy was surely playing well the “over-polite” guy for once, mistakenly using “Madame”. However, I think that showing strength by refering to consultations all the time (social partners, dialogue with the citizens, referendums..) isn’t particularly strong on content.

    One good quote from Fistful of Euros:

    “Royal ended the debate by briefly outlining her agenda of institutional reforms, which, if ever realized would clearly change the French Semi-Presidential system profoundly. Sarkozy, on the other hand, is naturally afraid of change that sounds even remotely like 4th Republic, whatever the number used to label it.”

    For me this is much more important. What do you think?


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