Sunday, April 22, 2007

France Selects Two Final Options

Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal survive being voted off the island after the first round of the French Presidential election. The results achieve the ascension to power of the post WWII generation. The importance of this election is not lost on the citizens as a phenomenal 85 percent of eligible voters turn out to cast ballots. A second nation wide vote on May 6th determines the Presidency.

Official Results Reported: The twelve candidates have the following percentage scores following the record turn-out of 85%: Nicolas Sarkozy 31.11%, Ségolène Royal 25.83% ... .

It is widely believed that Sarkozy is the more American friendly of the two candidates but the choice is truly more analogous to one between Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, with the pretty boy playing the Ségolène socialist role. This dynamic within the welfare state has the American left keeping a close eye on events, as Madison’s own socialist extraordinaire points out.

John Nichols: French voters have set up a race worth watching for one of the highest-profile presidencies on the planet. A pair of relatively young and dynamic candidates, conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Ségolène Royal, led Sunday's first-round voting and will face one another in a May 6 run-off vote that is expected to draw an extremely high turnout.

Though Sarkozy is a good deal more liberal than many American Democrats, he is by European standards a man of the right. And Royal, the first woman to make it into a second-round race for the French presidency, is anything but a radical.

But their contest will be a classic fight between the right and left in a country that remains the counterpoint to the United States on a host of foreign-policy issues -- not least the future of the Middle East, where the French government of outgoing conservative President Jacques Chirac has led international opposition to the military adventurism of the Bush's administration.

Ultimately, however, the French race will be decided on domestic issues -- with Sarkozy and Royal battling for the votes of centrists torn between the conservative's promise of corporation-friendly free-market economic reforms and the Socialist's promise that "human values will triumph."

The economic and social problems facing Europe are every bit as great as in America. The free west has thrived under the protection of the American military for over sixty years allowing governments to grant as benefits assets that otherwise would need to be allocated towards defense. Neither candidate is likely to bring about major reform to the status quo, but Sarkozy is more predisposed to tweak the edges in favor of employers. The vision Ségolène Royal describes of fortress France where outsourcing is restricted and every home has its own flag, is unlikely to grow prosperity. The left desperately want to preserve wonderland but reality has a way of imposing upon fairy tales and I’m sure Tehran is watching even closer than the Capital Times.