French voters reaffirmed the basic right-left cleavage of their politics yesterday by deciding that Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal will compete in the final round of the presidential election on May 6th. It was a magnificent demonstration of democracy in action, as 85 per cent of voters turned out compared to 60 per cent in the first round five years ago. They have opted in a politically coherent way for the two most serious candidates.Democracy lives again, as long as it is returned to a two-party system. Do Madam Kennedy and her boys and girls not find something hollow in that affirmation of the 'triumph' of liberal democracy? A turnout of 85% is remarkable but people voted less out of any duty to the Republic and its high-flown notions of participatory democracy than out of fear and shame after what happened last time, and also to express either their revulsion at or admiration for a personality as poisonous as Nicolas Sarkozy. There has been much rot spoken about the rejection of 'extremes' in this election, which is a typical liberal lie; the extremes have not retreated at all but have been endorsed following their co-option into Sarkozy's rhetoric and program. To imagine that the French body politic has suddenly cleansed itself simply because Le Pen's vote dropped to a still depressingly high 11% - his votes moving to a more pragmatic version of his old self - and the centre-left garnered a high score from a terrified resorting to utilitarian ballotting, one has to be either a knave or a fool. And I think Ireland's 'Quality Daily' has it well within its capabilities to be both.
Monday, April 23, 2007
There are few things in the world more pompous than the sounds of an Irish Times editorialist opining on France, and today's leader is a classic specimen. Because of the delusions of grandeur that persuade the Old Lady (late) of D'Olier St that anyone could be arsed paying €79 per year to access material, much of which can be found elsewhere for free on the Net, most of you will not be able to read it. But here is a taster of it from the first paragraph (the headline is 'A Triumph for French Democracy'):