French Politics In Five Minutes

As some of you may know, as we are currently pilfering through our Republican candidates like a pile of dirty left socks, France is having its own Presidential election. It is actually much the reverse of the American situation, as the sitting President is a much-mocked and incredibly unlikeable right-winger, Nicolas Sarkozy, who has made it abundantly clear that he and his gang of Ministers are not here to make friends, they are here to enforce a highly right-wing agenda. It’s up to the left here to dethrone the guy.

They have already had their primaries (within the major left party — formally known as the Socialist Party). Francois Hollande, beating out a rather lackluster panel of opponents (including his own ex-wife, awkwaaaard), has risen to the top as the one to beat Dear Leader Sarkozy. This is something of a problem, as Hollande has the general charm, panache, and ideological fortitude of a noodle you’ve left boiling for two minutes too long. A few of the other candidates, notably Martine Aubry, were briefly talked about as having the backbone it would take to stand up to the sitting President, but as she is ostensibly in possession of a vagina (and what is by all accounts an unforgivable haircut), she was stricken from the list for many French voters.

As a side note, we can hopefully all acknowledge how silly it is for some French voters (voters of any nationality really, but particularly those in Europe) to turn their nose up at female candidates. As we all know, Angela Merkel has become the de facto overlord of Europe with her tough-but-fair leadership, incredibly efficient economy, and the spine required to make Europeans give up on some of their social benefits/ 35-hour-work-weeks to get some real competition going. The average German is making less, but the country is doing much better. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to make that appealing to citizens? These are selfish human beings we’re talking about. Point is, Merkel has the biggest, sturdiest balls in the entire continent, and she’s not afraid to swing them around at all of the other foppish, aristocratic leaders when she needs to.

But I digress.

So Hollande is now up against Sarkozy — and you probably want just a touch of background about Sarko. Doing the usual Presidential thing, he didn’t make good on about 95 percent of his promises — though he seriously took a pick axe to the 35-hour-work-week, which is arguably a good thing. But what Sarkozy notably went in hard on (and this, it must be said, is the “conservative social issue” of any good European leader) is immigration. He was slick, in that he didn’t put any new laws on the books, but he enforced all of the existing rules that were, in practice, complete absurdity. Last year was an absolute disaster, with an approval rate of around 10 percent for immigrants who had done all of their studies in France, were hired by companies, and wanted to change their status from “student” to “salaried employee.” And let’s not pretend that those who were accepted weren’t often the “right” kind of immigrant. It was an absolute mess, but the numbers are starting to crawl back to normal.

So, he’s gotten a lot of left-hatred for that.

Then, you have his personal life. I’d bet that most of you know — if for no other reason than seeing him in pictures next to Obama — that he’s a tiny little man. He’s a tiny little man with an ego that would be out of place in a Nobel Prize-winning Ryan Gosling. He thus wears high heels in public, calls citizens “f-cking assholes” while on the campaign trail, and insists that only short people be put next to him in photo ops (tee hee). This does, however, contradict with his sports car of a 2006 campaign wife-choice, Carla Bruni. It’s true that she’s posed naked and slept with everything to ever hold a guitar, but that’s not what we care about. What we actually care about is a book called Rien de Grave. A few years back, Carla was living with her long-time professor boyfriend in Paris. They had been together for quite some time and were, by all accounts, very in love. She then left this man for his SON who was MARRIED with CHILDREN. Just, god, eww. So the former wife of the son who was apparently more desirable than his father decided to write this book, a thinly-veiled retelling of what happened, and Jesus — it is so messed up. So, yeah, say what you will about our First Lady — or really any first lady ever except Carla Bruni — but at least they didn’t do that.

Also, the two of them had their first kid together this past year, just before the primaries, and were all over every newspaper, magazine, and television in the country. WHAT INCREDIBLE TIMING.

You also have a lot of people who are still extremely upset because they believe DSK would have won the primary (likely) and been able to beat Sarkozy (debatable), and that he was set up by someone working for Sarkozy with his whole ridiculous sex scandal — but that’s a can of worms to be opened on another date.

And of course, like a brave knight riding in on the horizon wearing those all-white robes with the little eye holes cut out, you have Le Pen. Junior and Senior. Le Pen senior, a man, started the National Front party a ways back — largely created to house his racist, xenophobic, nationalist, separatist, crazyist beliefs. He publicly denied the Holocaust, blamed all of France’s problems on immigration, it was awesome. He’s been taken to court many times for hate speech, and though he is an absolutely incredible orator (so was Hitler), would never have a chance to win on any big election. His party, though, (NF is the extreme, extreme, insane right), does win local elections and always builds a large following in times of crisis — gotta find something to blame, right?! Why not people who look different than you?!?!

But you do have his daughter, who has taken over the party and is running for President herself as an outsider. See, she does have a chance — not to win, but to garner a ton of votes and exposure — because she is truly Le Pen Light. She has all of the hateful ideologies, horrendous platforms, and ass-backwards ideas for what France should do economically, but she’s able to bite her tongue in public and not say anything too egregious. Between the two, it is her who should be feared the most. She won’t win, but most French people are so unmotivated to choose between the two main candidates at hand, so she’ll probably make a decent-sized splash.

As an immigrant, I feel obliged to tell you how horrendous a possibility even that is. If the National Front were to do anything, they would immediately close all of France’s borders (to immigration and most trade), get out of the Euro, enforce (if not by law, at least by practice), a Christian leadership, and all but kill people of Arab descent in the street. (That last one may be a bit exaggerated, but not even, really).

So, France has its financial crisis, too. They have their election, too. They have their crazy right-wingers, too. But none of them have yet been renamed as a sexual neologism, so I suppose we still win. TC mark

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.


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  • Mimi

    Beaucoup d’humour dans cet article.
    C’est intéressant de voir ça du point de vue étranger. 
    Personnellement je vois bien la petite Le Pen passer, les gens ont été assez cons de vôter à droite une première fois, l’UMP n’a pas été assez radical, alors peut être qu’ils se diront que Marine est plus efficace? Même si selon moi le FN n’est qu’une image symbolique.
     Mais elle n’a  pas ses 500 signatures donc je reste réservée. 
    Parce que comme tu le dis… Hollande est un vrai clown, on verra bien!

    • Anonymous

      En fait, je vis en France depuis Janvier 2011 (et en 2010 j’ai passé pas mal de temps à Paris aussi), donc “étrangère,” jsais pas. Je me vois plutôt comme une immigrée–mais bon, je suis pas française en tout cas. 

      Et pour Le Pen, personnellement, j’ai vu trop de gens plutôt intelligents qui se disent “Bah, Sarko c’est un con, Hollande c’est un con, alors allons dans la merde avec Le Pen.” (On n’a pas encore ce sentiment de désespoir aux States, mais on n’est pas loin.) Par contre, je doute qu’au moment des élections, les gens normaux soient capable de voter Le Pen. 

      Mais on verra.

      • MIMI

        Enfin ces gens ” normaux ” ont quand même vôtés pour Sarkozy hein…
        Travailler plus pour gagner moins ça m’attire pas des masses.

        Etrangère, immigrée… on a diabolisé tout ces mots en France !
        Exploratrice du monde c’est bien mieux.

      • Bhar

        Le récit de l’histoire des ex de Carla est bourrée d’erreurs.
        1) Elle n’a jamais eu d’enfant ni vécu avec le père du père de son fils (Raphaël Enthoven); c’était juste un flirt;
        2) R. Enthoven a été prof de philo, son père n’a jamais été professeur;
        3) R. Enthoven et son ex-femme, Justine, auteur de “Rien de grave”, n’ont jamais eu d’enfant;
        4) Carla était déjà séparée du père de son fils quand elel a rencontré Sarkozy.

        Avez-vous seulement lu la quatrième de couverture du livre dont vous parlez ?

  • Anonymous

    You’re infinitely clearer in your explanation than my stoned Corsican ex-roommate. But he did has similar gusto.

    • Anonymous

      did has? really? i’m grounding myself from the internet for that.

      • Michael Koh

        i think it’s called pregnancy brain

      • Anonymous

        Trust me, I’m alllll about blaming the baby for things, but I assure you, I’m a total typo-fest regardless of the state of my uterus. But thanks for trying to let me off the hook :)

  • Steph

    This was a little too biased/anti-Sarkozy if you ask me. Say what you want about his personal life and support in the polls, but he’s been VERY committed to solving the Eurozone crisis along with Merkel, and has maintained French political power in the EU. He wasn’t even present for the birth of his child because he had to be at an EU summit. Hollande is vowing to not sign the new EU fiscal treaty, and he and Merkel do not see eye-to-eye at all- both of which will be potentially disastrous for solving the EU crisis. I’m afraid Hollande will counter all the progress achieved by the EU in the past 6 months.
    Also, I don’t think Aubry’s loss in the primaries had anything to do with her being a woman. She was just not as strong a candidate as Hollande. France had a female PM in the ’90s, and Segolene Royal nearly beat Sarkozy in the 2007 elections.

    • Anonymous

      Someone who is intentionally absent at their own child’s birth for their job needs be checked to make sure they’re human. 

      • Jeez

        Don’t know who died and made you God, but last I checked, not everyone has to do shit exactly as you’d like, asshole. What have you done in life? Been president? Don’t think so. Go get your own shit together before you judge others.

    • mjane

      I completely agree with you Steph. Segolene Royal was my first thought when Chelsea brought up the sex card. Very nicely put!

  • Anonymous

    Putain, il faut que je lise “Rien de Grave” le plus tôt que possible.

  • Maxime

    Speaking from France I understand how awkward the situation can be with primaries opposing ex-husband and wife, a new-born during the presidency, or even our disastrous first lady. So imagining that our main bet was a sexually disordered IMF President can only add to the whole “WTF FRANCE!?”, I know.

    However, don’t forget we have two polls for the presidential election, the first is dedicated to people like Marine Le Pen, so they can show off. But the second one is here to prevent them for actually doing more…

  • Bk

    I don’t think you know what “pilfer” means. Otherwise, well-written and reasonably persuasive piece.

    • Sesamesnaps

      Yeah, maybe she was going for “rifle”? As in, “rifling through my sock drawer…”

      • Anonymous

        Whoops, that’s actually totally the word I was looking for.  -_-

  • João Nuno Álvares

    As a Portuguese I share here my hate for both Sarkozy and Merkel, they don’t have the right to lead outside their country and see the small European countries like Greece, Ireland or Portugal has a bunch of lazy basterds, because we are not. Portugal is 900 years old and are not the Germans or the French who will have us as their “colony”. And everybody knows the French are the most hated people in Europe, both by Americans and the rest of Europeans, they are known to be racist and snobish (because they have an inferiority complex with both UK and Germany). And if there weren’t the Arab and African immigrants woult they even go to the World Cup? and who would do the jobs French people don’t want? Hating on immigrants is always the easiest thing when there’s a crisis, it happened on Germany, it happens here, in the US… everywhere. I think us Europeans should realize we’re not the center of the world. New powers in Latin America and Asia are coming!

  • Dolce

    MERCI ! It is sooo refreshing to see your analysis… As a French living in the US, now I have a refferal article to explain what the heck is going on over there (if people ever want to know, that is)…

  • Amyjuras

    Great article Chelsea! Now write an article about how the Paresians see our lovely candidates? And the names…Newt, Mitt, Barak, hardly your Tom, Dick and Harry’s! 

    • Lol

      lol Pares

  • Axelle la french reader

    J’aime beaucoup votre article et c’est toujours très intéressant de voir comment les étrangers perçoivent notre petite vie franchouillarde.
    En tous cas, moi, je suis bien embêtée …Voter Sarko : Pas fou, non ?! Voter Hollande … Bordel, mais on dirait une Vache Qui rit, ce mec, je peux pas croire qu’il ait l’étoffe d’un Président. Et Le Pen, père ou fille, je n’en parle même pas !
    Le problème, en France, aujourd’hui, tellement on est dégoutés de la politique, c’est qu’on ne vote plus POUR quelqu’un mais CONTRE l’autre. On laisse voir venir le premier tour, on s’éparpille pour nos raies idées et au deuxième tour, on vote CONTRE celui qu’on ne veut absolument pas.
    On est vraiment dans la merde.

  • Zcomme

     L’approche par le petit bout de la lorgnette,
    bourré comme à son habitude de contradictions et de fausses vérités (à part la
    nouille trop cuite) mais bon c’est normal…vous est américaine ;) !

    ex: On aurait pas voulu de Martine Aubry à cause de
    son “vagina”,

    Comprendre: confèrerait intrisèquement la capacité
    de faire la politique “autrement” + vilains français mysogines! ;

    Questions : Ah bon!? Mais alors MLP serait une
    drag-queen, alors!?

    Et Angela aussi ? Elle a parait-il les
    “biggest, sturdiest balls of the entire continent and swing them all around

    Comprendre :

    – Ne trouve grâce, aux yeux de l’auteur, Angela
    parcequ’elle a des “couilles”, voulant dire “pouvoir” et tant pis pour son

    – Ne trouve PAS grâce à ses yeux MLP qui tente 20%
    de francais qui a pourtant un “vagina”

    Déduction : Le vagin en lui même n’est PAS une
    condition excluante + Le vagin n’empêche pas d’avoir des couilles = Les femmes
    ne font PAS la politique autrement!

    Conclusion: le vagina de Martine Aubry n’a rien à
    faire dans cette non-démonstration si ce n’est d’entretenir un mythe de
    victimisation. Occulter sa responsabilité propre dans son échec en faisant
    croire que c’est dû à l’autre, l’homme ou les les hommes.

    ex 2: Le “succès” (tout relatif et très
    provisoire) de l’Allemagne serait dû à une politique de droite “but fair” de
    réduction générale des salaires et d’abandon forçé de “privilèges” de
    ses citoyens, fondamentalement “égoïstes”(comprendre: la crise c’est ta faute,
    ma faute, la faute à mes enfants…), et de leurs dirigeants “aristocrates”
    (comprendre: les “has been” qui essaye d’échapper à l’idéologie de
    la rigueur, au diktat allemand et celui des dettes bancaires

    Le tout à force de grand rabattage de couilles
    d’Angela (A coup de pompes dans le cul de la clique eurocrate serait plus

    Tiens et les banques Allemandes au fait!?
    (comprendre = elles aussi sont infestées de produits toxiques et très exposées à
    des défauts de paiements sur les dettes souveraines qu’elles détiennent). Et si
    on parlait de l’importance pour le “succès” Allemand du rôle de la politique de
    l’Euro fort et de l’endettement des autres pays Européens dans les résultats de
    leurs exportations. (comprendre = La Deutsche bank nous prête pour être les
    principaux acheteurs de ses produits industriels chers d’où l’Euro fort
    nécessaire). Et si on parlait de la “rigueur budgétaire” qu’elle veut imposer
    aux autres pays d’Europe? (comprendre: je vous ai tellement poussé à vous
    endetter que maintenant il faut vous serrer la ceinture et continuer de vous
    endetter si possible à des taux non triple A – comme cela on se gagne encore du
    4, du 5 (jusqu’à 9 % sur la Grèce) – auprès du fonds de soutien européens
    pour rembourser les dettes précédentes aux banques Allemandes, Françaises,
    Hollandaises etc… (Schizophrénia??))

    ex3 :Le gros dossier de Sarko serait
    l’immigration??? Ah!?

    Les cadeaux fiscaux c’est du pipeau!? Elle fait
    quoi du cassage des services publiques? du désengagement de l’Etat aux profit du
    privé sur les retraites et les assurances santé? de l’alignement sur
    l’Allemagne? Elle en parle? Ce serait moins marquants et moins fondamental que
    l’opération de com sur les Roms!??

    Au fait les 100 000 entrées légales d’étrangers par
    an en France ne sont elles constituées que d’étudiants que – OMG!- les
    compagnies n’arrivent pas à engager plus de 10% d’entre eux??? (Quid des étudiants
    frenchy if 100% were hired d’ailleurs).Question: Ce flux annuelle valide-t-il par les
    faits l’installation d’une réelle volonté politique de régulation de
    l’immigration de la part de la droite? Pourquoi ne le fait-elle pas alors que ce serait pour elle le pire des mots??  Y verrait-elle un intérêt? Ne
    serait-ce pas celui de la perturbation d’équilibres sociaux afin de fragiliser
    des populations entières pour rendre ces “égoïstes privilégiés” encore plus
    malléables aux règles du marché? Ne serait-ce pas favorable à leur mise en
    concurrence pure et simple au plus grand bénéfice de la logique ultra-libérale?
    Un(e) Président(e) n’a -t-il pas pour mission de servir et protéger ses

    ex 4:

    – Qui a un “vagina”?

    – Qui refuse de s’aligner sur les Allemands? tiens
    elle a aussi des couilles! (toutes les conditions seraient remplies non!?)

    – Qui refuse et propose autre chose qu’une
    politique d’austérité?

    – Qui propose un plan pour sortir de la logique
    d’emprunts auprès de banques privées?

    – Qui propose un rétablissement de monnaie
    nationale correspondant aux moyens des économies propres à chaque pays
    européens? (as the US, the UK, Japan, China, etc…)

    – Qui propose une véritable alternative, un vrai
    changement de paradigme, au système ultralibéral qu’est devenu l’Europe? Et pas
    seulement une posture pseudo-révolutionnaire qui n’aura d’autre but que de
    rabattre pour le PS au 2ème tour? (Joly, Mélenchon)

    – Qui propose d’introduire des éléments de
    Démocratie directe sur base du référendum d’initiative populaire (modèle Suisse)
    (tradition Gaullienne)?

    – Qui propose de sortir de l’OTAN fauteur de guerre
    aux noms de tous les faux beaux principes mis aux services de ses intérêts
    prédateurs cachés?

    – Qui dit que ce ne sont pas les immigrés la cause
    de certains maux sociaux -car ils en sont les victimes- mais bien la logique
    libérale de la politique d’immigration ?

    – Qui prouve que la “gauche” n’est plus du tout à
    gauche en étant l’allié objectif de la droite en accord cette politique du tout
    ouvert -biens,services,personnes- au nom soi-disant de principes universalistes
    mais dont les résultats touchent en premier lieu les populations les plus
    faibles, l’électorat de base de ce qui est censé etre la gauche?

    – Qui propose dès lors la préférence nationale en
    matière de politique d’emplois publiques, de logements et d’aides sociales aux
    français de TOUTES origines, sociales, culturelles et religieuses?

    – Qui a dit déclaré publiquement plusieurs fois que
    la seconde guerre mondiale était une abomination de l’histoire, que les camps
    était une monstruosité?

    Mais qui d’autres qu’elle a déclaré aussi son
    abomination publique des tueries plus actuelles que l’Occcident et ses
    dirigeants font en Irak? en Afghanistan? en Lybie? En Afrique?

    – Qui propose la fin du système d’indigénat
    Françafrique avec un plan égalitaire de collaboration entre

    Je le donne en
    mille celle qui propose la plus “crazyiest thing to do ” pour une américaine, la
    sortie de l’Euro-banqueroute…  Hitler’s daughter himself! Celle qui “tuera les
    arabes en masse” alors que la police de Sarkozy n’aurait  fait qu’un tour de

    Heil Marine!

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