Saturday, February 3, 2007

Royal homework

If you ever thought you had a lot of paperwork and short deadlines, just think of the French Socialist Party. On February 11, next Sunday, Socialist candidate Segolene Royal will be revealing her presidential platform. But because of her "participative campaign", there is still a great deal to be done. Only 3900 of a planned 5000 participative debates have been completed, and each of these has generated its own report. This does not even include the many debates that have taken place on Royal's website "Désirs d'avenir", which has had unique contributions from 120,000 people. One person described it all as "a kind of political Wikipedia."

The Royal camp is supposedly condensing all of this paperwork into short summaries, which are regularly read by Royal, and which should factor in her policy decisions. Although some critics have accused her of pandering to the masses with inconsequential participation, her money tells a different story. Royal has invested 20% of her campaign budget, or 4 million euros, into carrying out these debates. In addition to all of this, Royal will be receiving specially requested reports on certain issues, including one on taxes and government spending completed by former primary-rival Dominique Strauss-Kahn. What will be interesting to see is if Royal takes real political risks in her proposed platform, or whether she simply toes the party line with minor exceptions. But if she does just accept her party's platform, the problem might not have been her inadequacy, but the amount of paperwork...

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