Saturday, November 18, 2006

The First Female Leader of France since Catherine de Medici?

Ségolène Royal won the nomination to be the Socialist candidate for president with over 60% of the vote.

She has a good chance of winning as she's one of those unusual politicians with cross-gender appeal; women identify with her, see her as a role-model and aspire to become like her, while the men find her attractive.

I hope she defeats Sarkozy who is a little Napoleon (and remember the trouble Britain had with the original Napoleon). Royal also marks a more definite break with traditional French politics than Sarkozy (who after all has been in government in both the finance and interior ministries but has made precious little difference to addressing France's malaise).

Andrew Hussey did a very revealing profile of Royal for the Guardian in July. It's worth reading in full, but here are some excerpts:

In concrete terms, she has campaigned on local issues that affect real people - education, child-raising, anti-porn laws, the environment - rather than any of the big abstractions which still dominate political discourse in Paris. 'Segolene represents us, the ordinary hard-working people of France who are trying hard to keep things together,' I was told by Anne-Cecile, a mother of two and creche-worker in the lower-middle-class part of Paris where I live. 'She knows that times are tough for people like us, and she wants to help. She is not like the men with all their big speeches.'

............As I trailed Segolene through the stands in Nantes, I was struck by her stern manner. Close up, she doesn't look like Audrey Hepburn at all, but she does have something of the stern, posh sexiness of Margo from The Good Life.


He concludes,

No one knows yet whether Sego is, as her detractors put it, empty and doomed like Marie-Antoinette or, as her admirers hope, a real force for change, as potent as Delacroix's painting of Marianne, the bare-breasted heroine who is an eternal symbol for radical change to all French people. From what I saw in Nantes, my hunch is that Sego is rather closer to the very English figures of Margaret Thatcher and Supernanny, which means that if she ever does achieve power we might indeed see a truly revolutionary force at work in France.

4 comments:

traffic.One said...

She has a good chance of winning as she's one of those unusual politicians with cross-gender appeal; women identify with her, see her as a role-model and aspire to become like her, while the men find her attractive.
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is this what politics is about? :(

snowflake5 said...

Is this what politics is about? Yes. It's not just about policies, it's about whether people judge if you have the ability to actually implement policies effectively and whether you can carry the public with you.

Someone with a great set of policies but who is totally incompetant and unable to manage or implement anything is worse than useless. This is why the public pay so much attention to character issues.

Ms Royal is no idiot. She's managed to outmanoeuvre lots of die hard socialist colleagues by being shrewder and more politically attuned. And she's connected with the public. These political skills will mean that she should also be able to carry the French public with her when she starts reforms.

This is particularly important in France as the French public is stroppy and tons of great policies have bitten the dust as the politicians were unable to carry the public with them and so couldn't implement anything.

Bruno Gonçalves said...

Certainly she is fresh air in the french politics. However, I'm afraid that she doesn't has very strong ideas, and she's beting more in her smile than on her program...

dizzy said...

It's a bit disingenuous to call a Regent who had pretty much bugger all power, the leader of France.