Friday, December 29, 2006

Royal meets homeless

Tonight Socialist candidate Segolene Royal visited the Children of Don Quixote (Enfants de Don Quichotte), an organization that is trying to raise awareness of the homeless (abbreviated SDF in France) as the temperature falls. A member of the group described the meeting with Royal as "very constructive", and that "the next stage is a telephone call from Sarkozy." Apparently feeling quite cocky, the spokesman added that "I invite Jacques Chirac to give an opinion. Mr. President, study our charter...Chirac has a means of cancelling the social fracture."

The activist group is attempting to build a national consensus around its charter, which among other things "proposes to open the structures of lodging full-time and to create an offer of temporary residences and more social housing." Already several prominent politicians have signed the measure, and according to the group, Segolene Royal "felt favorable to a Marshall plan for the SDF", alluding to the US led reconstruction of Europe after WWII.

As this is rather difficult to politically be against, it is likely that both candidates will tie involve themselves at least indirectly with the group. The danger, of course, is that making too many committments before even being elected into office creates high expectations and constrained leaders. Sarkozy and Royal have each already signed French celebrity Nicolas Hulot's pact, which deals with protecting the environment. This is not to say that candidates shouldn't align themselves with outsiders when their views coincide, but cuddling too close to popular causes ends up looking utterly phoney and politically motivated if taken too far.

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