I’m sitting in my sitting room with three French women – my wife included – and we’re all watching the French presidential debate between the right wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and the socialist Segolene Royal. The sitting room is rather biased. Two confirmed Segolene voters and one very much waivering the socialist way. I’ll blog live the reactions to the debate in this one post updated regularly, or at leats until boredom sets in and/or the vino du callapso runs out.
OK, we’re a bit late to the start – French fag and coffee break takes the brunt of the blame there – let’s get the important things out the way first. French reactions to the sartorial elegance of both socialist and non-socialist candidates. Sarko – "I don’t like the blue, Cest pas chic. It’s like the mafia. Blue military. Like a gendarme." OK – he’s not doing too well. how about Sego? – "I think she’s too aggressive." And what about the clobber? "Today she’s very important, she’s OK. She’s wearing a white colllar, like for the intellectuals." Oooh interesting. She does indeed have an odd kinda collar on. Apparently this collar signifies a degree of intellectuallism. These are the facts only the French can tell me. Interestingly, the consensus is that Sarko – the pitbull, the dangerman – is way less aggressive than his feminine counterpart. Lots of oh-la-la’s going on at what Sego’s coming out with.
Bit more interesting background at the BBC. And here’s the pre-debate vote split,
I just noticed I uploaded the image on the left. Shit. I’m showing my true colours…
9:45pm – First feelings in from the sitting room. they’re both out of touch. Sarkozy less so. Let’s see if Sego can step it up a gear. She looks very earnest in her intellectual collar.
According to the Guardian, Sarkozy "bamboozled Royal, telling her was because of the 35 hour week that public hospitals were in such deep trouble." Although both "look calm". I think Sarko looks remarkably calm considering his attackdog reputation. Sego deffo comin goff as the aggressor at the mo’ here in the Toulouse sitting room.
10pm – Word from the sitting room – "Sego has good ideas, but no clear explanation of how to make these ideas work." Sego still on the offensive. "She attacks him on everything, Whereas he seems to listen to everything she says. She keeps interupting him." Couple of other observations, "She looks down on him, she’s quite ironic". As for me I love the way Sarko calls Sego "Madame". Such a polite attackdog. Grrrr…
Hardcore live French 20Minutes feesheet blog/YouTube/comment feed.
"First part of the match is for Sarkozy. Creepy as he might be, the
statements made by Royal concerning accompanying female civil workers
home and how the 35-hrs will create more jobs even though this has
proven not to work are self destructive."
10:30pm – "She’s more anxious now, but they have been very petty. She seems to be very green, but – say the women in the sitting room – France is not exactly the most environmentaly friendly country. We have to count on nuclear power. Windpower is a errr…. pipedream, milldream?" That’s the feeling from the leather lined sofas in Toulouse. This isn’t good. Sego coulda turned this all around tonight. She just needs to bump it up a notch and Sarko to lose it a notch, but that’s not ‘appenin’.
10:40pm – I’m not the only one who thinks Sarko is overdoing the Madame bit. Now Sego is pretty darned hot, but overdoing the Madame bit is no way of sweet talking any woman, let alone french one. Wondering how many of the folk in the suburbs are gonna react to this. They’re the folk – with no jobs, not much of future at present – who could decide this whole thing.
10:42pm – The feeling is Sarko’s overuse of Madame is a "rude tool" to distance himself from Sego. He’s addressing the journalists more than he is Sego. Whereas Sego, I’m hearing from the floor, is very, very egocentric "I do this, I do that" It’s all to obvious. It’ not subtle. Forced even. My own feeling is that the folk in my sitting room are not convinced by Sego, but are not swayed by Sarko. Personally, the whole Madame thing reminds me of the old bag lady who tore Margaret Thatcher to shreds on Nationwide(?) wometime in the early 80’s.
10:48pm – Sego doesn’t want more than 17 pupils per classroom in French schools. Hmmmm… Practical? Possible? Here’s the full policy background.
10:55pm – I reckon Sego’s kept this bit of powder in her barrel for the end. She’s coming out punching on handicapped children and schools, but I think she just sounds a bit too ranty, a bit too… too… Joan of Arc. Where’s me vino? Lost count of the "oooh ahh’s" and "ooh-la-la’s". Calls for valium for Sego.
10:58pm – Sarko’s back up. Mr. Calm, but his Madame Royal’s are grating the room up the wrong way. First impressions are there are no winners here tonight which all means (possibly) that Sarko will win it. If this debate has not affected the whole population one way or the other – and I really don’t think it could have – I think it’s very safe to assume Sarko will be president come this Sunday night. My wife’s pretty level headed, very level headed actually, and she says Sego "just lost it".
11:06pm – Typically French, timetable is scrapped and we’re a shocking 6 minutes overtime now… – One great wee highlight pickep up by lomelinde sama,
S. Royal : *exposes her project on some subject in a quiet, rational way*
N. Sarkozy : *interrupts* Yes, but what I’m proposing is way worse !
S. Royal : *smirks* I can only agree with that.
We laughed. I almost shrugged. OK… I did shrug.
11:17pm – From the comments at the Guardian,
Segolene Royale seemed to be on the brink of tears as she reacted
passionately to Sarko’s remark about the new versus the old politics in
relation to the education of handicapped children. Quite dramatic
stuff. Royale has really suprised me she is more than a match for Sarko
and has found at the end of the campaign in this head-to-head a
Statesman(woman) like quality. Will it make a difference at the polls
I have to say on the ground here in a room full of mostly Sego swaying voters that is not the case.
11:21pm – This is all reminding me of the very excellent BBC documentary podcast France vs. the world. All very school marm, stay behind after school, write your lines, get threatened with the cane and stand in corners etc. Achhh… much the same as British politics, or any politics, I guess. Bonus link. I just came across some more interesting debate at Comment is free.
11:30pm – there’s a feeling among the French in the sitting room that Sego has overread the Hilary Clinton book of politics. She’s a bit too crafted, but not well crafted. She comes across as something of an amateur whereas Sarko, who’s probably read from the same book, appears to have more oommph, appears be more spontaneous.
The fact that the debate is going way over time is a good sign for all.
11:34pm – Persian Perspective offers some insight ont he foreign policy section of the debate,
"she did another gaffe saying France should boycott the Olympics in
China, with Sarkozy cleverly pointing out how French athletes couldn’t
compete in a country where Segolene Royal paid a diplomatic visit
lately… It seems from the polls that Sarkozy will be winning this election,
even tough Royal did appear strong on many topics during the latest
debate. Yet, her clumsy foreign policy is something that people might
want to take into consideration before voting."
11:36pm – Ooooh dear Sego… just asked to give her wind up spiel after Sarko, she turns on the false smile and flicks on the pre-programmed political speech. By comparison, Sarko kept things brief, whereas she obviously had her prepared speech and there was no way she weren’t gonna give it. Word from the couch, "She’s too amateur. You can see how she’s worked on this speech. Overworked on it. it looks amateur, sounds amateur, she just turned on a button."
11:47pm – It’s Sarko on points says the Daily Mail,
"Sarko by a mile… Sego did not land the killer blow she needed and instead lost her cool
in a theatrical way on the subject of handicapped children. That
allowed Sarko to accuse her of being too temperamental for the
Mathilde couldn’t disagree more with the Daily Mail verdict and pretty much the verdict I witnessed in Toulouse,
She was GLORIOUS. Oh my GOD she actually made me scream with glee a couple of times. She was PERFECT, and I want her as my president, I want her so much it’s almost physical aagh. I YEARN. And him. He was a pathetic, ugly little creature. He wallowed in ignorance and petty remarks and even open sexism… If after such a demonstration that piece of shit still gets elected, I
swear to all that is good and pure that I will leave this country
before the year is over.
The debate continues until Sunday night. The Guardian haven’t decided what they think yet and I’m off to bed… Whooops. That’s a lie. One last link and a headline I can totally empathise with, Change France but keep the lunches.