Sunday, April 22, 2007

What's so great about April 22?

The air is heavy on the Côte D'Azur. A thick, white brume de chaleur cloaks the distant niçois hills, washing out the landscape in a layer of mid-afternoon heat. From my 7th floor terrace, I notice that this Sunday, all is not quiet as usual. The normally calm Place de Gaulle below is buzzing with people. And they be movin'.

They are not dawdling, not strolling, not basking in the spring warmth on a lazy Sunday; moms pull along their children, young couples stride hand-in-hand, all walking briskly, with a purpose. Today, French citizens are off to the poll stations. Today they will elect their new president!

Or at least narrow them down to two.

Who will it be? Sarko and Ségo, the powers representing the droit (right) and the gauche (left), lead up the pack for today's 1er Tour election, basically France's presidential Semi Finals. Polls estimate a 50/50 voter split once they get into the boxing ring called the 2ième tour, or as I like to call it, the Final Round. Things could get ugly.

However, before the bloodbath, I'd like to reflect on the last couple weeks. I gotta say, things have been pretty impressive on the part of the French political scheme.

First of all, you get to vote for the leader of the country. I know, lame and done elsewhere in the world... but as a Canadian (cf. Westminster System), I will never know this joy.

Next, l'égalité du temps (Time equality). Forget the free-for-all mo'-money-means-more-votes campaigning. All candidates are given exactly the same amount of television airtime (news reels, commercials, talkshows), to the minute. It's fair, it puts the big boys on the same level as the marijuana boys, it's all about power to the people... it's french.

And finally, publishing exit polls before the 8pm voting deadline is strictly prohibited, to prevent biasing voters. Thus, turning on the TV on election day does NOT give to-the-minute updates on every news channel. I had to settle on a dubbed made-for-TV police drama. :/

As a rather pathetic apathetic gal when it comes to politics, I've come to appreciate the french zeal for political debate and discussion. In reality, it's a battle of intrigue and goodguy vs. badguy (definition of goodguy/badguy changing depending on your opinion).

Will it be the mega popular socialist Ségolène Royal hoping to run away with the women's vote?

Or Nicolas Sarkozy, the smooth-talking frontrunner promising to wash away the racaille (low-class riffraff) and make France work harder (oh god, work?!)?

Or the diabolical extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen, whose followers hope for a "pure" French society cleared of immigrants?

Or maybe François Bayrou, whose first name is only one letter away from being "Français"??

Results. Here. Soon.

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