Friday, May 04, 2007

Voting Time

“I’m afraid she has been fooled by Segolene’s promises,” says my neighbour, Jean-Paul, “ but Tombien, now he’s all for Sarkozy, even though it may be hard for a while.”
Tombien stops eating for a moment, the long strands of grass still hanging from his lips. He waggles his ears in agreement.
I should explain that we are standing in the paddock discussing the French election prospects and the two of the electorate that are the subject of this discussion are Jean-Paul’s Llamas. He thinks the female has been swung toward Royale on the grounds of her sex alone. Personally, I believe she is still a swing voter
French voters are so diametrically opposed to their British counterparts that it is difficult for any other than native French correspondents to paint a true picture. The French are less concerned with party politics than with their nation (how terribly unthinkable to be proud of that!) and the preservation of a way of life that seems to be the envy of the British, judging by the numbers that arrive and try and colonise us.
Much of the UK press seems to think that most of the French live in the banlieus of Paris or other major cities where the rioters were dubbed “rabble” by Sarkozy. There are two points to be made. Firstly, the rioters were a minority and secondly, the vast majority of citizens, including many of those in the banlieus, agree with him.
Unchecked immigration is a problem for any nation, as the current state of Britain’s prisons prove, loaded as they are with foreign residents. And the complaint of some of the immigrants in France that they are discriminated against may not be without foundation. But, as in any developed society, if you are any good, you will succeed.
The senior sales manager at the Renault factory from whom I bought my car was from North Africa. The manager of our local supermarket is Moroccan. The producer for a television company that I write for is Armenian and a local building contractor, with a tidy little business, is a Turkish Muslim.
It is, of course, the same in Britain where many of the best and brightest could be dubbed “immigrants.” Most of us were at one time.
Much of French political discussion, even including the potentially explosive Sarko-Segolene TV discussion, is low key and the media are admirably restrained, still having that old-fashioned idea that they are there to report the news.
The French, young and old, do still care about their nation, so often dubbed “proud,” as though that were a terrible fault. And they prove it at the polls
Perhaps pride is something that the British should concentrate on rather than on CCTV cameras and talking lamp posts.
I expect today, Jean-Paul and I will be in the top paddock. He has a lot of donkeys, sheep and goats there and is anxious to see how they will vote this weekend.
But I believe Leo, the oldest donkey, has been drumming up support for Sarkozy so I think it’s a foregone conclusion.

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