Friday, April 13, 2012

Non, Non, Non

Charlotte is a very sweet baby, but she always says ‘no’.
Her video uploaded in December 2010 on YouTube immediately went viral: it has been watched 14 million times.
She has now a French avatar; the chubby baby who always says ‘no’, has been adapted for the sake of the forthcoming French presidential elections.
The interviewer asks Charlotte: “Tu votes pour Nicolas Sarkozy?” (Do you vote for Sarkozy?” Charlotte says “Non!”. For François Hollande? “Non!” For Jean-Luc Mélenchon (the Communist Party’s candidate)? Non!” For Marine Le Pen (the aspirant of the far-right National Front? “Non!” Francois Bayrou? ‘Non!’
And so on, for all the 10 candidates! The 2012 two-round French presidential election will be held on April 22 and May 6; the two first candidates on April 22 being selected for the second round.
The President of the French Republic is the elected Head of State with extended powers in the fields of defence and foreign affairs and some control over a Prime Minister nonetheless answerable to the Parliament.
Charlotte has a point: since the beginning of the Fifth Republic in 1958, France has never witnessed such boring elections.
The new Constitution of the Fifth Republic which replaced the old parliamentary system, undoubtedly brought a stability to the institutions;, a majority of the electors is however aware that the future President will not be able to solve all the tough problems facing the country.
Sarkozy, once the hyper-President, has lost his halo. He even had to apologize for his ‘people’ (Page Three) period during the first years of his Presidency while less and less electors believe that he can deliver new miracles.
Hollande has never been an exciting postulant; further he does not have the charm of his ex-companion Ségolène Royal, Sarkozy’s rival in 2007; the Socialist candidate remains ahead in all surveys and will in all probability be the next President. He has the advantage of incumbency. But this does not make the campaign thrilling.
Bayrou, the eternal looser is unable to bring enthusiasm to a campaign becoming duller by the day; Bayrou, who wants to be the ‘alternative’ has been downgraded to the fifth place in the surveys.
Marine Le Pen, the daughter of the veteran extreme-right provocateur, Jean-Marie Le Pen is not doing as well as she expected. A few months ago, she thought that she could topple Sarkozy and reach the second round. She now arrives in the fourth place behind Mélenchon, the only candidate who keeps progressing, probably thanks to his wild populist promises. But one can’t expect a modern country to return to a Bolshevik system à-la-Chinese.
The less one speaks of the other candidates, the better.
Will the last days of the race, become more ‘sexy’ or at least slightly less boring? No, no, no would say Charlotte.
The real issue is that nobody has the solutions to sort out the economic and social problems facing the country. There is no readymade panacea.
More than 75 % of the French believe today that the globalization is something negative and that the concurrence of countries like India or China will affect further employment.
Very few believe today that a solution will come from the European Union, which is ‘too bureaucratic’ and excessively centralized in its decision process.

The British press never misses an occasion to make fun of the French. The Economist calls France 'A Country in Denial'. The cover story points out: “What is most striking about the French election is how little anybody is saying about the country’s dire economic straits. The candidates dish out at least as many promises to spend more as to spend less. Nobody has a serious agenda for reducing France’s eye-watering taxes. Mr Sarkozy, who in 2007 promised reform with talk of a rupture, now offers voters protectionism, attacks on French tax exiles, threats to quit Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone and talk of the evils of immigration and halal meat.”
Hollande will probably be unable to fulfill his promises “to expand the state, creating 60,000 teaching posts, partially roll back Mr Sarkozy’s raise of the pension age from 60 to 62, and squeeze the rich” charging them with an income-tax rate upto 75% of their revenue?
Many thought the gruesome killings of military personnel and Jewish kids in Southern France could bring some spice into the campaign, or at least open a real debate. Though each candidate presented his own recipe to tackle this tricky issue, the barometer of the surveys did not move.
When candidates have not much to promise, what is left to say?
In India, it is easier, you can always promise a fridge, a cycle (or a motorbike), a laptop or a grinder, but the French already have all this.
So what to promise? A brighter future?
But who can be certain to deliver the goods? 

One should ask Charlotte!

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