If you've been watching French TV over the past few weeks, you may have noticed a rather strange phenomenon: just as the campaign swings into high gear, the TV coverage has descended into a whirlwind of "campaign diaries" (e.g., a 15-second per candidate photo montage that takes you from Arthaud to Sarkozy en passant par Poutou and Cheminade), punctuated by interviews in which each of the candidates appears at the anchor's side for a few minutes of heart-to-heart. What you're not getting is any in-depth analysis or detailed coverage of the leading candidates. Blame the CSA. In case you're confused about the equal-time rules, here's a quick rundown. We are now in phase two of the gradually tightening noose, and the absurd results are there for all to see.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité: it's a fine trinity, but there are times when the insistence on strict "equality" has truly perverse effects, and this is one of them. Jacques Cheminade's candidacy is a joke, and yet there he is, holding forth to half a dozen people on a streetcorner in Trouville-sur-Néant, as though this "meeting" were as significant an event as Sarkozy's mammoth affair in Villepinte. Who's kidding whom? Last night on France2, one could enjoy Philippe Poutou telling a reporter that "campaigning is more tiring than working" in a Renault factory, which might not be exactly the message you would expect to hear from the candidate of the New Anticapitalist Party but which somehow seemed less important than having a reporter try to press Hollande on what exactly his strategy for "renegotiating" the recent Eurozone agreement on budget discipline would be. But you can't have that, because then you'd have to hear Dupont-Aignan, Joly, Arthaud, and Cheminade at similar length.
Surely the absurdity of this system is patent. So why is there not more clamor to do something about it?