Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Politics (As Usual?)

One good thing about being 3,000 miles from home is that the scary and insane aspects of American politics are somewhat muted.  Well sure, I can get all the news I want through my computer but it's not quite the same as being assaulted by the headlines everywhere you go.  The funny thing is that, while I am a long way from fully understanding French politics, I've come to realize that the French sometimes have as much too be embarrrassed about as we Americans.  Take for example, the latest poll by Harris Interactive for the 2012 French presidential race in which Marine Le Pen, head of the far right Front National, came out on top ahead of Sarkozy and the Socialist party leader Martine Aubry.  These results are debatable given that the election is still more than a year away and the Socialist party hasn't determined yet who its candidate will be (and all bets are on current International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss Kahn).  But still the specter of the xenophobic Islam-baiting Front National coming out on top is enough to scare even the center silly.

Then you've got former president Jacques Chirac up to his hips in trouble for allegedly paying city salaries to employees of his political party (the UMP) back when he was mayor of Paris in 1992-1995.  The law couldn't touch him when he was president of the country (imagine that, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton).  But now that he's a private citizen again, the judicial process has re-engaged.

Over at the Elysée, things seemed to have calmed down a bit since last week when the President had to send his minister of foreign affairs packing because she took some free flights and helped her parents get a preferential real estate deal in Tunisa -- at a time when the country was simmering with protests against now deposed leader Ben Ali.  Technically what she was doing was not against the law but the public relations fall out was pretty bad.  Sarkozy called in the reinforcements, reorganizing his cabinet with a bunch of old friends who will stand firm with him as he tries to rehabilitate his sorry poll numbers.  That cabinet, which once looked like a picture of racial, gender, and even political diversity, now looks pretty much like a club of middle aged white men.  Yeah, and all those photos of Moammar Qaddafi's official visit to France back in 2007 (complete with a tent pitched on the grounds of the Hotel Marigny, where official visitors stay)?  They're no longer anywhere to be found on the official Web site.   At least Mike Huckabee can't accuse President Obama of letting Qaddafi camp out on the White House lawn.

6 comments:

emmabovary said...

I think Marine Le Pen has a real chance, vs. when her father won the 1st tour back in 2002; that was more of a folly than anything serious. But Marine is very bright and much less emotional than her father. Her candidacy should be taken very seriously. I'd love to see Sarkozy be a one-mandate president (what a disappointment he has turned out to be; such a clown) but at what cost?

La Mom-an American Mom in Paris said...

I'm with emmabovary on this one...unfortunately, Marine Le Pen probably has a serious shot at the presidency. Shudder.

La Mom
An American Mom in Paris

emily said...

Loved this post - living in Dublin I always feel just a little relieved when something wacky happens back in America and I'm not there to feel it. But then I turn around and Ireland's politic stage is even wilder! Good to know I'm not alone...

Starman said...

The candidates from the Front National always do well in the (what we would call) primaries, and then lose by huge numbers in the actual election.

Susan said...

Wow, the popularity of Le Pen is a little scary. I'm moving to Paris in a few weeks so I'm just looking forward to being able to turn on a TV and knowing it's unlikely that I will hear Sarah Palin's voice - like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Collage Cottage said...

I agree with emmabovary, this is probably like 2002. The French are all about sending a message, but when push comes to shove in the final vote, I don't think they'll go Le Pen. Of course, I could be wrong.

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