Question: imagine you live in France for the moment. It’s a nice place to live, for the most part (especially if you’re a multi-generational French citizen and live in a major city). Life is quite comfortable and there’s not a tonne of pressure on individual workers to constantly serve the interests of employers. It’s a fairly nice situation if you happen to be a direct beneficiary of the State’s noblesse oblige.
Now imagine this: what would you do if the way of life most French citizens had grown accustomed to over the years was under serious, real threat from the outside world? What would you do? Would you face up to the modern realities of globalization and conform to that way of thinking, entrench yourself even deeper into France’s ideological presets, or maybe a Third Way of the Blairist tradition?
This is the dilemma France faces now. The Problem Child of the European Union, a former leader of Europe now looked at by other EU members as a potential deal breaker to the whole Pan-Euro experiment – it’s at that crossroads most nations don’t want to face but have to at some point. Britain’s been through it a few times now. Canada twice, the U.S. a few times (with another turning point coming in 2008). France’s Fifth Republic is crumbling – someone needs to save it.
Personally, if I were French, I’d be supporting centre-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy at this stage, although my heart would be for Segolene Royal on some issues (even if her ideas are way too costly for a French State in which the public debt is now more than – gasp! – 66 per cent of the GDP).
While he’s not an entirely palatable candidate (his anti-immigrant views can’t be good for France in the long-term, he’s got some alarming protectionist tendencies and his opposition to Turkey’s entry into the EU is merely prolonging the inevitability of Ankara’s entry into the exclusive club), France needs some serious help.
There’s a lot of international media attention on France right now – there’s a lot at stake in this election for the planet’s sixth-largest economy. Let’s hope this time, France gets it right (so to speak).