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French politics

I will be here for the first round of the French elections, which take place on Sunday. It looks as if Francois Hollande will prevail, turf out Sarko and set a new course for this continent. Very exciting. Here’s a recent editorial in The Guardian:

Hollande’s campaign has been safe by design. If he achieves the ultimate goal, he will have done this by being the most underestimated man of French politics. For much of his career, the wise-cracking and genial Hollande not only did not mind all those derisory epithets he attracted from bigger egos within his own party – marshmallow, flanby (a wobbly caramel pudding), wild (and thus small) strawberry – he seemed to invite them. What better way to disguise the scale of his ambition? If few took him seriously then, they do now. And it’s not just because he lost 12kg in a crash diet.

Sunday will not just be about one duel, but two. As important is the bitter fight that has been waged between Marine Le Pen, who has widened the appeal of her party without altering its core far-right message, and the real star of this election Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the Front de Gauche. A former socialist senator who broke with his party over the referendum for the European constitution, he is difficult to typify. A firebrand, certainly, but also your favourite school teacher. He has attracted the biggest rallies in this campaign by saying the things no other candidate dares to say. Mélenchon has already performed a service for the left. By taking blue-collar voters away from the far-right, he has re-energised and re-united a fractious left. His eyes are already on the next prize, the legislative elections in June. He may not succeed in his aim of coming third in Sunday’s election, but if he does it will be the first time in the fifth republic that two candidates of the left have got into the top three places.

This fight is still far from over. Sarkozy is now pinning his hopes on a television debate with Hollande days before the second round. But for the time in a generation France will be on the cusp of real political change.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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