February 15, 2007


The lady in red: The Socialist candidate emerges in her true colours (The Economist, Feb 15th 2007)

SEGOLENE ROYAL, the French Socialist presidential candidate, is trying to pull off a heroic political trick. She wants to appear to be modern, fresh and different. But she is all the while leaning on old-style socialist policies that have been ditched by almost every other mainstream left-wing party in Europe.

The contradiction was exposed last weekend in a packed conference hall outside Paris, where Ms Royal finally unveiled her "presidential pact". The event was designed to show that she does politics differently. It was the conclusion of her "listening phase", during which more than 6,000 town-hall meetings were organised across France and 135,000 contributions posted on her website. She talked in modernising terms, of a new France, of research and of innovation. Instead of citing the great intellectual heroes of the left, she spoke of "Odile, a single mother", "Karim from Toulon" and Diam's, a French rapper. Rather than lecturing her supporters, she gave them cute, homespun encouragement: "I want for every child born here what I wanted for my own children."

Yet the 100 detailed policies that Ms Royal unveiled to steer France down this soft-focus path amounted, in the main, to a long wishlist of spending pledges, with little explanation as to how any of them would be paid for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 15, 2007 3:17 PM
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