Monday, April 23, 2007

84.5%

A cheer rang out around 8pm over the waters of the Bassin de la Villette.

We left the sun and found a wood-paneled café with a TV mounted above the jukebox. The space, empty when we arrived, was soon filled with young faces.

They were washed with relief upon hearing the broad outlines: Sarko and Ségo and defintely no Le Pen. But that (unbeatable?) 30% brought silence and worry - would Sarkozy really be the next president?

I remembered the anxiety that filled a similar bar seven years ago. We were gathered at Simon's to watch the map turn red. The same unbelieving questions were being asked about Bush. But not one among us had voted.

Stellar excuses abounded that night: I had gone to the wrong polling place. Many others had forgotten to register. And our votes weren't needed in Illinois...

For the French - who plan vacations around voting - this kind of apathy is incomprehensible. Nearly 85% cast a ballot yesterday, and turnout is expected to be even greater on May 6.

A mild depression has set in today among my lefty friends and colleagues. Not one of them is excited about their candidate. The "anyone but Sarko" ballot is not an inspiring one to cast. But they will do it anyway - and in huge numbers. Which is more than their US counterparts seem capable of.

9 comments:

Miss Despina said...

And their UK counterparts too. The thought of our upcoming local elections depresses me, as turnout was around 35% last time. I come from a rather political family, and think to myself year after year, Why oh why don't people use their votes?

rossoneri said...

does it really matter? the french economy needs some reform and fast...I doubt any one of the two would do much to move away from the socialist policies.

maitresse said...

I'm very curious about this Bush-Sarko equivalence made by many supporters of the French Left. To my mind, Sarko seems to resemble a free-market democrat more than anything else. I don't at all see the crisis of Bush's election in the possibility of Sarko's.

It just seems like too easy (and too extreme) an analogy, but I'm certainly open to hearing arguments in favor of it.

edvard moonke said...

although it's terribly depressing that it looks like sarkozy is going to win, you gotta take your hat off to the french for the amazing turn out....

whilst in england they are all the same androids wearing a blue or red mask, in france it really does seem to count which side of the political divide they come from...

come on segolene!

Adrian said...

sarko will win

jchevais said...

I'm more "anyone but Ségo" even if that means Sarko. This country is in trouble. I can't see her pulling it out of the muck. That's for sure.

One thing that I find interesting is this: Not one woman that I've met who CAN vote (and is French Middle Class) likes Ségo.

Not one.

One of my friends (very French Middle Class, three kids) voted Le Pen because she is tired of all of the government money going to immigrants who don't work with lots of kids while she's barely able to make ends meet because she "earns too much" (which is not a lot really) because she does work.

I live in a Socialist town and I can tell you that their politics are catastrophic. I have two kids that have to go to the rec center during holidays because I have to work. The fees involved are so high (because of how much I earn) that the rec center ends up costing MORE THAN MY MORTGAGE (almost 800 EUROS) if I put the kids in the rec center every day for the month of July or August.

The town I used to live in was UMP. I could put my kids at the rec center for almost 3 months for the same cost.

I'm not sure why there is such a difference because in the end, it all gets funnelled to the Tresor Public because they are exactly the same services...

So while I wouldn't vote Le Pen, I would definitely vote Sarko if I could.

jchevais said...

Also... I thought I should mention that I'm a bilingual secretary (ie. a menial). Nothing more.

Brooklyn Volunteer said...

Sarkozy aligns more with US Democrats than any conservative Republican. Look at the differences between Bush and Chirac.
The day Royal is elected expect more strikes. As evident with Mitterand's term, France was crippled by strikes.
I live in a UMP district and I admire the chance for small businesses establishing here. There's less dependence on the slow French government doing everything for you.

Garrincha said...

"As evident with Mitterand's term, France was crippled by strikes."

Oh please, go read your history books.