Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Out With the Old, In With the...Old

Someone brought to it my attention last night that Nicolas Sarkozy is teetotal, meaning that he does not partake of France's celebrated wines; as this friend of mine said, a sizeable proportion of his electorate might have been turned off by this had it been better known. But seeing as Sarkozy has managed to cast himself as an outsider despite hailing from an aristocratic background (not quite your average immigrants, the Sarkozys), growing up in Neuilly-sur-Seine, one of the wealthiest cities in France and being part of no less than five governments, M. le Président probably would have carried this handicap quite well.

The breakdown in the vote for both Sarko and Royal is interesting, and is detailed by both Libération and John Lichfield in the Independent. While many of the findings are not too surprising, especially those concerning the social backgrounds of the voters - the young, a majority of working class voters and public sector employees for Royal; small businessmen, shopkeepers and private sector workers for Sarkozy - it is intriguing to note that Royal quite easily won the election among the electorate aged 59 or less. A colossal 70% of voters over the age of 60 voted for Sarkozy, which makes one realise that those most enthusiastic for the candidate of change who is likely to at least partially dismantle the French welfare state, are those that have benefited most from the old sclerotic system. Their pensions are in the bag, no need to worry, now France can move forward. I have questioned before Sarkozy's real will to implement the sort of economic change that many of his supporters imagine is going to be summoned as if with a magic wand, and there is an excellent piece from the New York Times, published before the election, about the unlikeliness of it happening too quickly. And unlike many Anglo-Saxon opinion pieces on France, this one is well-informed and devoid of condescension and contempt for the country.