Monday, March 19, 2012

Ten Candidates

Ten candidates have had their 500 parrainages validated and will be on the first-round ballot. So, I have a question. How is it that Jacques Cheminade, Philippe Poutou, and Nathalie Arthaud, who collectively might have one percent in the polls, can round up 500 signatures but Dominique de Villepin, a former prime minister, can't, and Marine Le Pen, polling at 17%, claims she had difficulty? This is a nominating system that makes no sense to me.

What's Up with French Youth?

First the Left lost the workers. Now, the polls say, it is losing the young:
Hollande voulait être le candidat de la jeunesse. Mais il a de la concurrence. Selon un sondage CSA pour BFM TV, il ne recueille que 18% des voix des 18-30 ans contre 25% pour Nicolas Sarkozy et 26% pour…. Marine Le Pen. A l’inverse, il arrive largement en tête chez les 18-22 ans. Selon un sondage Ifop pour l’Association nationale des conseils d'enfants et de jeunes (Anacej), il obtient 31% des voix dans cette population, il est suivi par Marine Le Pen avec 23% puis par Nicolas Sarkozy avec 21%.
And the winner is Marine Le Pen, although it's doubly humiliating for Hollande, who has courted the youth vote, to be bested in this category by both Le Pen and Sarkozy. Of course the strikingly contradictory results for the 18-30 and 18-22 categories are not only puzzling, they suggest that we might want to read these polls with a grain of salt. Still, I suppose that part of the explanation of whatever is going on has to lie in this graph of youth unemployment:

Terrorist, Madman, Neo-Nazi?

The same weapon was used in the murder of French soldiers in Montauban and Toulouse and of four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse. .Three of the soldiers were of North African origin, and another wounded soldier was Antillais. The regiment to which the soldiers belonged was in the news last year when several of its members were exposed as neo-Nazis and expelled.

Speculation based on these bare facts remains speculation. Nothing firm has yet emerged from the investigation, except that the same weapon was used in all three attacks and the killer rode a motorcycle.

Changes in the French News Web

The Le Monde Web site has changed its look. I don't much like it. Too much white space, too much scrolling to find the articles you want to read. On the whole, a dumbed-down front page. Meanwhile, the French HuffPo is up. Here's editor Anne Sinclair's account of Mélenchon's retaking of the Bastille. Not too bad. You'd hardly know she'd ever left journalism or was married to what's-his-face?

What Possessed Mélenchon?

More than one person listening to Jean-Luc Mélenchon yesterday turned to his or her neighbor and said, "On dirait de Gaulle!" It was the somewhat lugubrious rhythms of the speech rather than the quality of the prose, I'm afraid, that recalled the general, who would probably have recoiled from sentences like "Chaque matin qui se lève, la lumière étend son domaine dans la journée. La nuit se replie. Vient le temps des cerises et de jours heureux." This wasn't the incandescent Mélenchon of the average party rally. But what exactly was it? Judge for yourself.

Meeting de Jean-Luc Mélenchon by LCP

Slaughter of the Innocent

First, three French soldiers gunned down by an assassin on a motorcycle in Montauban and Toulouse. And now, in Toulouse, a teacher and three children killed by an assassin on a motorcyle in front of a Jewish school. Are these incidents related? Police think they might be. In any case, both Sarkozy and Hollande have flown to Toulouse, the campaign is on hold, people are frightened, and all of France wonders whether there are more killings to come. In the meantime, one can only grieve for the victims and wait.