Saturday, April 21, 2007

Stuff to do while waiting

It's still a long wait until tomorrow night (in France), so for any election watchers out there who need some reading material, here are good links to check out.

1. PBS/Frontline has done a 16 min piece on the current state of the French welfare state, entitled "France: The Precarious Generation -- Au revoir job security." They also have a general overview of this year's election and a quite indepth interview with Bruno Palier, a political scientist at France's Sciences Po (Sarkozy attended but did not graduate from that school). Not to be stereotypical, but Palier ends the interview with the profoundly French observation that "there is no reason to live if you're not optimistic." Honestly though, if you are curious about how France has gotten into the mess it is in, the interview and video are very illuminating.

2. The Council on Foreign Relations is also publishing some good material in anticipation of the election. Their Director of Europe Studies gives a pretty lucid interview for Americans who are just viewing this election for the first time, and an interactive timeline of Franco-American relations is helpful for Americans (and French) who forget that their countries are actually friends. The Council's always excellent publication Foreign Affairs has also reviewed Nicolas Sarkozy's book Testimony in the May/June edition. The review was actually done by The Economist's Paris Bureau Chief, and ends on an optimistic note:

"The real question is whether the less daring, more populist stance that Sarkozy has taken during the election camapign genuinely calls into question his commitment to the values and policies expressed in the pages of Testimony...The Sarkozy of Testimony is a blunter, tougher-talking politician than the man on the campaign trail. That one has been savvy with his voters. But the one who inhabits the pages of this compelling book may be closer to the real Nicolas Sarkozy."

3. Unfortunately there is somewhat of a media blackout in France because the state apparently fears that last minute info might influence voters (as if the coverage over the past months doesn't do the same?!). However, for those like me who cannot even watch over-regulated French TV if we wanted to, you can watch several news channels including France24 and BFM TV if you go to the site World Wide Internet TeleVision and scroll down to France.

Other than that, there's only one other thing to say to the candidates: good night and good luck.

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