November 17, 2006

La Bataille Royal de la France

Hatched by Dafydd

No, that's not a misspelling in the title; I refer to Ségolène Royal, who just won a bruising primary -- the first for France's Socialist Party. She beat up on two ponderous, old lefties with jowls.

Ségolène Royal moved a step closer to becoming the first female president of France early Friday, crushing her two male rivals for the Socialist Party nomination in next April’s election.

With most of the vote in, Ms. Royal, 53, a regional president and former minister, won 60.6 percent of the vote of the party’s nearly 219,000 members in an unusual primary.

Her closest rival, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 57, a former finance minister, received 20.8 percent of the vote, and Laurent Fabius, 60, a former prime minister, 18.5 percent.

For reference, this is what Mlle. Royal looks like:

Segolene Wearing Clothes    Segolene nearly naked

Mademoiselle of Curvature, Parlez-vous?

(Say, shouldn't John Hinderaker be blogging this instead?)

There is a reason everyone -- including Mlle. Royal -- emphasized her looks: evidently, she's not the sharpest hammer in the box. She has virtually no experience in the weighty issues of the day for France, neither foreign nor domestic; and she did not acquit herself well in the six debates (three were televised). In fact, her lead steadily dropped... and if the Socialists could have had an American-style two-year campaign, she might have lost.

Her inexperience in foreign policy issues surfaced last week when she said during the last campaign debate that Iran should never be allowed to have a civilian nuclear energy program. As her opponents quickly pointed out, Iran enjoys that right as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

But the party members’ enthusiasm for Ms. Royal seemed to trump any slips on policy issues.

Since her two competitors looked more or less like this --

Grumpy Dominique Strauss-Kahn    Grumpier Laurent Fabius

Gumpy Old Lefties: Laurent Fabius (left), Dominique Strauss-Kahn (even lefter)

-- She probably would have stabilized and won in any event, even with a ten-year campaign season!

Ms. Royal was repeatedly attacked in the campaign as naïve and inexperienced. In addition to questioning her foreign policy background, her opponents and other critics mocked her proposal to create “citizens” juries to pass judgment on the work of elected officials, calling it dangerously populist, costly and irrelevant. At one rally in Paris last month when she discussed the issue, she was booed repeatedly.

During one debate, she defended her call for a less centralized, more representative form of government, saying: “Democracy is like love. The more there is of it, the more it grows.”

Say, isn't that how Abbey Road ends? (I mean, except for "Her Majesty," which isn't even a real song. I think it was probably the musical equivalent of those Styrofoam® packing peanuts.)

As cute as she is, especially at age 53, I have a bit of a hard time believing that even la Belle France would be in such a state of denial, in this era of terrorism and the French intifada, that they would elect a complete tyro, Socialist, "kumaya," group-hug candidate like Ségolène Royal, in preference to the hard-as-nails Nicolas Sarkozy of the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement, part of the right-wing coalition in France).

But God knows, it's always dangerous to bet against French irrationality.

The polls show the two of them neck and neck, both in an initial match-up with other candidates, then later in a run-off. But then, the 2004 polls in Australia also showed the conservative Liberal Party-National Party Coalition of Australian Prime Minister John Howard running neck and neck with Mark Latham's Labor Party... and Howard convincingly beat Latham 52.7% to 47.3%. I don't know what this has to do with France, but I wanted to toss it in to illustrate my skill with Wikipedia.

Still, I think that once the debate is actually joined, and the French realize it's a choice of a cute face and lovely body on one side and Mlle. Royal on the other, I'm sure they'll go with M. Sarkozy.

But then, what do I know? I picked Austria-Hungary in the first World War.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 17, 2006, at the time of 6:56 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Nuclear Siafu

You picked Austria-Hungary for WWI? Heh. You're a sucker. Everybody knows the smart money was on the Red Sox.

The above hissed in response by: Nuclear Siafu [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 17, 2006 8:45 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

It not who you pick, but whether you beat the spread.

Yeah, she's hot. But have you seen Chirac? Mitterrand? DeGaulle? (did anyone ever vote for him or was he self-anointed)? Obviously French voters look beyond...looks. What they look for is anyone's guess.

Tough on the Muslim vote. Go with your misogynistic impulse and votes against the hot chick, or go with your intifada impulse and vote against Sarkozy.

It hard out there for a wannabe Jihadi.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 17, 2006 9:23 AM

The following hissed in response by: Don

They could vote for the National Front (Le Pen). No, I guess that won't work, Le Pen hates Jews and Muslims equally. Perhaps the Trotskyists? Hmmm, I don't know.

I think they have to form their own party. How about calling it The Sharia Party?

The above hissed in response by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 17, 2006 11:51 AM

The following hissed in response by: Don

Did Austria-Hungary cover the spread?

The above hissed in response by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 17, 2006 11:52 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E


...and the French realize it's a choice of a cute face and lovely body on one side and Mlle. Royal on the other...

Just which side of Mlle. Royal were you referring to?

To paraphrase Professor Henry Higgins, "The French don't care what they do, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly."

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 17, 2006 11:29 PM

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