Saturday, February 10, 2007

New voters, but for who?

The International Herald Tribune is running an article about the huge number of new voters who registered in time to vote in the upcoming French presidential election. Although many of these newcomers are immigrants and/or members of the lower classes, the article warns that Socialist candidate Segolene Royal cannot take their votes for granted.

Gounedi Traore, 26, a Frenchman of Malian origin, spoke for many when he rejected the two main candidates who hope to succeed President Jacques Chirac: Royal and her center-right challenger, Nicolas Sarkozy.

"I would sooner vote for Le Pen than for Ségolène or Sarkozy," scoffed Traoré, referring to the anti-immigrant leader of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen.(...)

In addition to the youths thinking of voting for Le Pen, who has campaigned for decades on an anti-immigrant platform, there was an elderly communist who liked Sarkozy's tough stance on crime, and a middle-aged first-time voter torn between François Bayrou, a centrist, and José Bové, the radical anti- globalization activist.

"The suburb vote will count this time but nobody knows how," said a young man in Muslim garb. He said he would vote for Royal because he thought it was time a woman came to power. (...)

"It's impossible to tell how many of the newly registered voters will actually vote and how they will end up voting," said Bruno Jeanbart, director of political research at the OpinionWay polling institute in Paris.

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