|Where do I vote?|
I found the whole thing to be as charming as can be.
Candidates must first obtain 500 signatures of support from local officials, then two weeks prior to the first round of voting France says, ready... set... go! And all of the candidates start their campaign. This year we had 10 candidates to choose from during the first round, right wing extremists, utopian communists, a stylish green party représentative with unusual glasses and a Scandinavian accent, a people's man who proposed eliminating public debt by simply not paying it, Hollande who is a socialist often compared caramel pudding by the French media and bien sûr, Sarkozy, fighting hard to keep his job. What an interesting mix of characters.
|Green glasses. Green party. Get it? I do.|
The French are a dramatic people and will often make a wild theatrical vote during the first round for someone who they know (and deep down hope) will never take office, just to make a statement.
I don't yet have the right to vote (as a side note this was interestingly a big topic of conversation during this campaign, should foreign residents have the right to vote in local elections? Wouldn't cover presidential elections so a mute point here but still an interesting topic if you ask me) Gregoire is the only French person of legal age in our household and thus holds the family's vote. We talked it over and decided to go Green. Yes, she's not French, yes, she has crazy glasses, but she loves the environment, gay people, and foreigners, she chose to live in France which shows that she loves this country by choice not obligation and more importantly through her environmental policies proposed several feasible solutions to jump starting the economy outside of the whole tax or cut debate between the traditional left and the right.
Unfortunately only 2.7% of the population agreed with us. And unfortunately for her she didn't make it to the magical 5% mark, if candidates are able to pull in at least 5% of the vote they are reimbursed by the government for most of their campaign costs. That's right! No need for endless fundraisers here or selling your soul in order to raise enough money to print posters and buttons.
|Let the debate begin.|
|"The man. The president. The candidat." Slick photos from Sarkozy's website done by actual marketing experts, something the French public find suspicious and displeasing in a political candidate.|
This debate, held a few days before the final election, was from my standpoint a little disappointing. After such honest and direct campaigning, such simple and effective distribution of information, I assumed the two candidates would speak to the public from their hearts but instead they simply spoke to each other using cryptic acronyms and debating percentages and numbers so obscure that the audience largely lost interest and had the time tease the debate mediators and analyse the body language of the two men. The mediators, two famous journalists, were barely able to maintain the debate on course and where compared to office plants in the news. Sarkozy to me looked like a rooster in a cage fight, twitching with agitation at his cool and dopey faced opponente. The piece of this debate that I thought was a brilliant addition, was a running stop watch set under the candidate's desk insuring that each person had spoken the same number of minutes, I found this delightfully fair.
|Here on the other hand is one of the only images to be found on Hollande's website where there isn't a whiff of marketing or pr to be found. Just this odd photo of Hollande (right) in an unattractive meeting room drinking inexpensive bottled water.|
That night very same night at 8pm on the dot the announcement was made, Hollande would be France's next president.
|"Be dignified, be patriotic, be French. I love you. Signed, Nicolas Sarkozy. " This was the now ex-president's good bye message on his website, La France Fort, The Strong France, after his defeat.|