Sunday, April 15, 2007

Foreigners prefer Royal, at least in Europe


Over the course of this entire campaign it has been obvious that the political elite in the US and the UK would strongly prefer a Nicolas Sarkozy victory over that of his rival Segolene Royal. On the contrary, a new Financial Times poll shows that 16% of respondents in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK would prefer Royal, far ahead of the 7% given to Sarkozy.

What explains this? First, Royal has been publicly close to Spain's current Socialist PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and Italy too is enjoying a left-wing government after year's of Silvio Berlusconi. In the UK, dissatisfaction with Blair's close alignment with the US has likely made the public wary of anyone who volunteers to go for a photo-op with George Bush.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a similar poll done in the US, although lack of name recognition would significantly bias the overall results. Because even the mention of socialism in the US makes someone shudder with thoughts of communism, it is unlikely that Royal would gather as much support as in Europe, while Sarkozy, on the other hand, would likely end up looking quite the moderate. One shouldn't, however, fall into the mistaken belief that the US political environment would favor the likes of Jean-Marie Le Pen. Le Pen's slew of racist and anti-Semitic comments over the years would have destroyed his political career decades ago, just as the exhortations of this year's fringe left candidates would have done to them. At the risk of making a gross simplification, I would say that the US system isn't so different from the French system except that it moderates political debate toward the center, while the French are much more tolerant of both right and left extremes.

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3 comments:

Jake said...

Maybe they agree with the point I made several months ago about socialism in France... i.e. a weak France is a good France!

Boz said...

Nice one, although I would hope that everyone polled isn't as cynical as you...and when was the last time Britain or Germany had to fear France? 1066 for the first and 1918 for the second.

Boz

rcb said...

I think we Americans see our vote as "wasted" if we vote for someone sure to lose the election. That's unfortunate because it concentrates our wide and varied perspectives into a simple two party system that the victor claims validation for all of its wackiest platform positions. But it looks like France is catching that bug if the "collective" votes against Sarkozy instead of for the candidate they prefer.