Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Provinces Bleu et Rouge

Imagine a country divided politically along geographical lines, causing polarization and bitterness, a country where presidential candidates just give up on most of those areas and choose a few critical battlegrounds. The United States? No, I'm speaking of France. Look at this map of how the departments (subdivisions of provinces) voted in the recent 2012 presidential elections. Red represents is the Socialist candidate (and victor) Hollande, Blue Sarkozy, who becomes the first one-term French president is a couple of decades. As with the US, one party has dominance on two ends of the nation (in this case the Socialists north and south) and the other the center (Sarkozy's centrist-right UMP party). The US press has totally missed this story of geographical polarization.

What's surprising about the election is how close it was. When I was France last year, just as Sarkozy was pushing his pension reform so that train conductors couldn't retire with full pensions at 58, he was the most unpopular man in France. The fact that a milquetoast like Hollande could get elected tells you how bad things are.

We'll see what happens with France, but you have to feel a little sorry for Sarkozy's wife, model Carla Bruni, who had that photo-opportunity baby for nothing. Wait... she just announced she's resuming her singing career. There goes the sympathy!

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