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Tuesday, Nov. 28
The Indiana Daily Student


President ‘bling-bling’ down in polls

In France, some rouge states are about to turn bleu.

This past week, at dinner with my host family, the topic of the ongoing French regional elections came up. The streets of Paris have been littered with campaign posters for every party imaginable, one for every shade of political belief.

They found it crazy that, even in a politics-obsessed country like ours (an impression I’m pretty sure they’ve gotten from watching dubbed episodes of “The West Wing” on DVD), there were really only two major choices plastering walls with posters each electoral season.

This became a full-out American civics lesson. How does the president get elected? What is an “electoral college”? I can’t even explain that in English.

Then, they asked point-blank who I voted for, what I thought of Barack Obama, what party I identified with.

So I turned the question back onto them: Who did you vote for in the 2007 French presidential election?

In unison, they responded: Nicolas Sarkozy. My host mother explained that while they were never exactly fans of Sarkozy’s overindulgence and personality (he’s known as president “bling-bling” here because of his over-the-top flashiness, and wife Carla Bruni’s exploits don’t exactly help the image), Sarkozy was the lesser of two evils.

They called Segolene Royal, Sarkozy’s Socialist Party challenger, simply folle, or crazy. Sarkozy was, to them, the only realistic choice, but that doesn’t mean they particularly liked him.

As regional elections drew to a close yesterday, it seems much of France feels the same way.

Sarkozy’s party, the conservative Union for a Popular Movement, is predicted to fare terribly in the polls. After a first round of voting last week, the UMP received just under 40 percent of votes to the Socialist party’s 53 percent.

The backlash comes as many French citizens remain angry over Sarkozy’s handling of the economy in the past years. The monstrous flop of his “national identity” debates, attempts to reform immigration and distracting public and tabloid persona haven’t been forgotten, either.

Across the country, typically right-leaning regions are expected to veer a little to the left.

Additionally, voter turnout has reportedly been miserable, with several polling places in politically active neighborhoods standing empty for stretches of time.

These regional elections are expected to be a sort of preliminary test for Sarkozy’s chances in the 2012 Presidential elections.

So far, it looks like president “bling-bling” is going to be out of a job.

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