Sunday, February 11, 2007

The French firstie

While we're on the subject of American Presidential firsties, we shouldn't forget about France's first female Presidential contender, Segolene Royal. She's running on the socialist ticket against the establishment candidate, Nicholas Sarkozy, the darling of expat Hungarians since his parents apparently came to France from Hungary.

Royal is still finding her way on the French trail. She got good reviews for her domestic platform, declaring that she wants for all French children what she was able to give her own: a secure upbringing, a good education, promising job prospects. But she committed a couple of gaffes, too, this week. One was not so serious: she failed to mention China's dismal human rights record when going on record favoring closer French-Chinese ties. The other was rather more consequential, as she proclaimed herself all for "the liberty and sovereignty of Quebec," long a sore subject with Canadian authorities since Quebec citizens have been agitating for decades for separation from, or at least a special relationship with, Canada. Sacrebleu, one might say.

Mrs. Clinton had a rocky week, too, as audiences repeatedly pressed her for an explanation of her vote for the Iraq war, i.e. why she will not disavow it. It's not clear why she won't: it could be that she truly believes that was the right call at the time, or she may be trying to burnish her bona fides as a Woman Unafraid to Wage War.

One thing is clear: in neither country are the voters or the press charmed out of their professional judgment by the mere fact that women are running for office. So much the better for all of us.


Anonymous said...

It's been interesting watching the developments of that contest. Unfortunately Sarkozy appears ahead of Royal's PS (socialist party). I've got a soft spot in my voting finger for Royal, who heads the regional Poitou-Charentes government, an area I lived in for a bit as a student. ;)

SS97 said...

Royale sounds like an interesting character. Her campaign song is by the Black Eyed Peas and she has4 children but never married.

A major obstacle to closer Chinese/European ties is global warming. The Chinese dont seem to really buy into the idea while the Europeans are hysterical about it. I could see this debate causing a lot of heartache in future Euro-Asian relations.