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French Election: The Blogosphere Voters
The next president can't win without the young people
Demian West (demianwest)     Print Article 
Published 2007-03-26 08:45 (KST)   
Some in France and the U.K. predict that the center-right leader of the French presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy, will not be in the second round. In fact, the French electorate is very volatile. Indeed, it is so unpredictable that Sarkozy's leading position in the polls could turn into his sharpest defeat on May 6.

In 2002, for the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic, a leader of the far right surged to reach the second round. Actually, Jean-Marie Le Pen trounced Lionel Jospin, the socialist candidate who was left for dead politically. This was the greatest political upset for nearly 30 years.

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The young people who had seen this smashing defeat are now able to vote and they are widely motivated. All the parties of the political spectrum have built sophisticated organizations devoted to rallying young people to their policies. However, the blogosphere is the space in which they work and gain new shares of the electorate to favor their respective candidates. So in this new space, we can observe in France a new phenomenon, the so-called "Miss Buzz" -- a young woman named Quitterie Delmas who is widely known as the very symbol of the deepest hope of a new political generation. As the most popular personality of the Union for French Democracy Youth in Paris, she is widely seen from the right to the left as a new expression who could change the mood of the political debate, which might become more humane and enthusiastic too. Everybody in France knows that the presidential race could be decided finally in the blogosphere debate and by means of constant buzzing and activism, which leads to massive votes. Thus, the next president should win by a few points, and probably with support coming from the whole blogosphere.

On the other hand, Nicolas Sarkozy expresses some conservative points of view and he is busy courting the far-right electorate who usually fears the new technology. So the buzz of the Union for a Popular Movement sounds weak and seems unable to win more precious Internet space, unlike the UDF Youth, which gains cyberspace day by day. The Socialist contender, Segolene Royal, is very active in cyberspace, but on some frozen mood. She has launched a citizen media venture, "Desir d'Avenir," including many participative debates too. Unfortunately, this citizen media venture fails to surge in the political real debate and in the mainstream media. Thus the whole socialist cyberspace looks like a glossy cover magazine with the fixed picture of the distant and straight queen, Royal. This is not as attractive as the vivid expression of Delmas, who looks like the anti-Royal image and personality, to the UDF's profit and probable victory.

Actually, the next president can't win without the youth votes, and the cyberspace votes. Although nobody could have foreseen his irresistible surge, some in cyberspace had predicted the rise of Francois Bayrou, who is now more than the "third man." Some say he is the second favorite with U.K. Bookmakers, as the "rebel" candidate who sounds like a direct appeal to the young. Furthermore, on the blogosphere we can see Bayrou breeding horses and driving his famous tractor -- widely seen on TV -- as a symbol of rebellion against the main medias, and against the "godfathers" of the conservative political theater, from the far-right to the left-of-left. However, Bayrou seems mostly attractive to the left's and right's volatile voters.

Still, Sarkozy can't count on more rightist votes because Le Pen and Philippe de Villiers (the second far-right contender) eat up the right-of-right slice of the electorate. In the second round, Royal will certainly gain the left-of-left votes. In fact, the two leading contenders are probably Royal and Bayrou. They could run in the second round race toward May 6.

Some might say the buzzing blogosphere is a sort of bubbly vintage. Nevertheless, the three horses are on the same line and race in the polls is tight -- the first great upset in the 2007 election. Many voters remain undecided. A recent poll announced that over 50 percent claimed they were afraid of Sarkozy. In the first round, probably, Le Pen will maintain his 15 percent core vote. So Sarkozy has many reasons to fear this first round of voting. It could turn into a new defeat ending his political campaign and rise.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Demian West

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