Two charismatic politicians are expected to contest a fascinating battle to become the next President of France. In the right corner, Nicholas Sarcozy. On the left, the equally newsworthy Segolene Royal. The unfolding story promises to be one in which the new web technologies will play a significant role, as the protagonists attempt to induce more participative democracy into their campaigns. But a surprise candidate appear in the mix? (Updates added)
In just a month, the political pendulum seems to have swung in favour of Sarcozy. Royal has been somewhat error-prone, and has been damaged by inexperience and a lack of deftness (e.g. in remarks in Canada, somewhat touchy about its Anglophone/Francophone tensions).
Talk turns to a late run by centrist politician Francois Bayrou.
Last night’s TV spot just about made the late-night news in the UK. Edited highlights can be misleading. British commentators concluded that Segolene’s chances now look extremely slim. New technology, a fresh and appealing image, may not be anywhere as important as I suggested…
Can the outcome be so clear, so early in the battle? Do not pendulums swing in both directions?
Original posting (January 14th 2007)
Nicolas Paul Stephane Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa – more commonly known as Nicolas Sarkozy was today appointed the centre-right candidate for the French presidency. Rivals within the ruling UMP alliance Rival candidates have dropped out in recent months, leaving Sakozy as the most likely candidate to challenge seriously Segolene Royal. But the French political system tends to be structurally disposed towards complex and potentially fragile alliances. Sakozy has been emerging as a strong challenger but his appointment today is hardly a ringing endorsement.
From the other side of the Channel, the BBC noted that
The 51-year-old was chosen by party members via an internet vote. Just 69% cast a vote, but 98% voted for Mr Sarkozy, who was the only candidate. Some 327,000 UMP members could vote. Many attended a lavish rally in Paris. But President Jacques Chirac was not present, while several senior party figures had said they would abstain ..Mr Sarkozy was aiming for a show of unity, despite bitter divisions at the top of the UMP.
The UMP election process had concluded with a web-based debate between politicians and party members.
Segolene’s web-based campaigning
Segolene had also embraced web technologies energetically in her campaign to win the nomination to represent the left-wing of French politics. She has encouraged participative democracy through her web site and has claimed that the responses have shaped her election platform (details of which were also released on the web).
In Webs we trust
The web-innovations will delight those who see the web as the great new information revolution. There will, naturally be unexpected problems. My attempts to surf the URL sites today met with signal lack of success (or lack of signal success). Royal’s site does appear to be working and playing a part in her campaign.
Some interesting questions
Is France where the first web-based Primaries are taking place? Will Sarkozy survive his most important political battles, namely, against the political enemies on his own side? Will France, who gave a grateful world the concept of Chauvinism, now elect its first female President? Whatever. If French politicians can use Blogs to shape their policies, I too will welcome messages on these questions, concerning the new e-world in which we elect the leaders we deserve.