Saturday, October 8, 2011

You pay your euro and you make your choice

Break-dancers are out there in the precincts, trying to get out the youth vote. Out there in France outre-mer, the polls have already opened. Yes, tomorrow it's the first round of the socialist party primaries here in France, to determine who will be the party representative in next year's presidential elections. Who has the stature to bring down the much-reviled Sarkozy? Six months ago, the answer to that question was clear:

But fate had other plans for the randy DSK. So the race is on. Who will be victorious? The safe, some might say "boring", front-runner Francois Hollande, who shed 15 kg in the run up to tomorrow's contest? Or will it be Martine Aubry, DSK's anointed successor, known by some as the "Angela Merkel of the left"? Recent surveys show Segolene Royale, Hollande's former partner, and the mother of his four children, to be flagging at the polls -- her loss to Sarkozy in the last election is considered a liability.

Anything might happen. Unlike the U.S., where voting in party primaries is restricted to the party faithful, that is, registered republicans or democrats, respectively, tomorrow's primary is open to voters of any party affiliation willing to fork out the 1 Euro participation fee. It's hard to imagine this happening in the U.S., where it would effectively be an open invitation to skullduggery and sabotage by the rival party. When I raised this possibility in class, Bruno's response was a kind of charming bewilderment at such a cynical idea, which he immediately dismissed as being impossible in France, because it is "contrary to the spirit of the Republic".

Let's hope he is right. In the likely absence of a clear winner in tomorrow's poll, a runoff will be held later in the month.

The campaign has been refreshingly free of the kind of dirty politics familiar to those of us living in the U.S.

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