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French elections fought in blogosphere

I met the charming Guillaume Du Gardier at the blogging conference this week and asked him about the French presidential election. He has just recorded his views on video about how influential the internet has been and the different online tactics used by leading contenders Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal for David Brain. It’s worth listening to, and you can enjoy his sexy French accent too.

He told me there could be a surprise, that Francois Bayrou, a centrist candidate who wants to bridge the “prehistoric” left-right divide,” could still gain more support. politicalbetting.com is not so sure, but the L.A. Times describes how the farmer-turned-intellectual-turned politician has shaken up French politics. It’s certainly going to be gripping.

Bayrou has challenged his leading opponents for an internet debate before the first round of voting on April 22. While Royal and Le Pen accepted, Sarkozy refused on the grounds that French election laws would make such an event impossible, he also believes the debate should include all 12 candidates or none at all. Can you imagine how long and drawn out that would be! I wonder if online political debates is something we will push for in our next general election. I expect Bayrou is seeking it as his poll ratings have taken a dive and was hoping bloggers would rise to his rescue.

I think it’s extraordinary that an internet debate has even been proposed for the presidential election, such is the power that politicians feel the internet holds. The politicians’ websites have been very powerful campaigning tools, as Guillaume describes in his video. Just check out the candidates’ websites, Sarkozy even has his own TV station, the websites for Royal, Bayrou and Le Pen, which seem less colourful in comparison, though unfortunately, my French is not good enough to understand the content.

BBC correspondent Mark Mardell writes here about how the French elections are being fought in blogosphere. It raises the important question about whether politicians should be spamming the public, if it will alienate them, though that does not seem to have happened in France. This is what Mardell says:

According to Le Monde 27 million French people use the web everyday and 40% of them say it’s their main source of political information. When Sarkozy spammed three million people, a lot of them did bother to click on the link rather than hit the delete button. It’s claimed 30,000 people joined the UMP as a direct result. How’s that for political communication?”

These are the outsiders standing in the election, we must spare a thought for Arlette Laguiller of the Workers’ Struggle, the retired bank clerk has taken part in every presidential election since 1974. Can anyone beat that perseverance? Or does she simply not know when to give up?

And French internet politics is such good fun too, please tune in and enjoy this cheeky cartoon video of Sarkozy and Royal in a compromising position, and you can also watch Disco Sarko dancing to Staying Alive.

Update: Croydonian tells us which French stars are supporting Sarko and Segolene.

Have a very happy Easter break.


18 Comments

  1. David, I wonder if the French have combined their Cafe society and online pursuits by opening up chains of internet cafes – it makes sense, doesn’t it?

  2. Elle, I read in the FT last week that 56% of French people have access to broadband (either at home or work) which is the highest number in Europe. In the past when I have asked Guillaume why the French are so advanced in this interface between politics and the net, he has pointed to two things. The fact that social media is such a discoursive thing readily adopted by a country that invented Cafe society and the old Minitel system which in the past, put a rudimentary net into many people’s homes while the rst of us were still watching Tomorrow’s World.

  3. What a choice though. Sarkozy or Royal.
    I suppose Sarkoxy is sound on most issues, but I can’t help feeling he is pandering to he right on some. The future of French inter-community relations isn’t looking good.

  4. Yudansha

    Shouldn’t it be renamed the ‘frogosphere’ ?

  5. …Nice when the French put Britain first – of course I didn’t mean it to sound like that.

  6. I wouldn’t like for our press to lose market share -though I’m sure many politicians would love it.

    And what I’d give for government that put Britain first like the French do.

  7. Fascinating post, Ellee. I really learnt so much here. Yes, I saw Croydonian’s post too. It’s certainly an interesting affair, this election, more so than the American, methinks.

  8. The internet plays an important role in business in general. 5 years ago it was well behind newspapers, TV and radio for advertising. Now ( for us in auctions) its the “first point of call”. So vital.

    So, it stands to reason tha politicians MUST use this above all else.

    What is going to happen in france? a swing to the left?

    Happy Easter Ellee!

  9. I know of a few people who have dropped newspapers altogether, I find myself reading more online news now. I suppose it is only natural that the internet should be viewed as an additional medium for electioneering. It’s interesting and gratifying to note that French music and humour appears to remain inferior to our own – well, they can’t be allowed to have everything, can they ?

    Happy Easter.

  10. Hi Elle,
    I haven’t actually seen her on a bikini, though I must confess I am ‘partial’ to a well hung bikini.
    She has a “j’ai ne se quois” air about her, you know Evita Perone kind of thing, which I find much more attractive than the Thatcherite crude (fascist?) mentality – keep one half happy and suppress the rest – pay the police double-bubble (overtime) to smash the unions.
    For sure the unions did need ‘sorting out’ but Thatcher did almost start a civil war, just that in the 1980s there was no Cromwell with an army of roundheads to oppose her.
    And she didn’t have the balls to take on the doctors’ unions, the real burden on tax payers and the nhs. lol!

    Disco Sarko and Le Pen are a little too ‘right wing’ for my liking – back to the bad old days

    If someone uses the magic formula of ‘real’ compassionate conservatism or enlightened socialism (new labour?) – where there is no class war, feed the rich and impoverish the poor, or the reverse ‘tax the rich dry’ –
    providing decent homes and affordable housing for all (keeping in check rampant house price rises), providing health care for all (by keeping in check health care cost, doctors pay rises and pharmaceutical industry profits), a working wage for stay at home mums (being a mum is a full time career), and decent state pensions for all, including early pensions for lorry drivers, farmers, labourers …

    Despite our differences when we are born, despite our competitiveness when we are young, despite the social limits to access to further or higher education, despite our differences in pay depending on career choice … everyone deserves a decent home, a decent health care system, and a decent retirement – simply for having ‘survived’ (the war or struggles in life)

    But hey that’s just me.
    Altruism doesn’t work, not because it can’t, but because not enough people (genuinely or sincerely) support it, to swing the pendulum.

  11. I agree with above and it’ll be interesting to see how the Cameron v Brown debate comes over on line, as at the moment there is a clear front runner.

    Hope you are a wonderful Easter. All very best. Michelle

  12. Q9, Your appreciation of Segolene is nothing to do with the fact that she looks great in a bikini, is it? I read the link, many thanks, it was very interesting too.

  13. lol – I do like Segolene Royal
    Maybe she should offer tax reductions to the rich, with a comprehensive social programme to cover social housing, health care and pensions (at 55?) – and hey let the next government 10 years later (and the EU) pay the bill.
    After all, It’s winning that counts!

    Power And Sexual Harassment – Men And Women See Things Differently

    I guess Segolene knows that screaming ‘sexual harassment’ (like a girlie) would be one sure way of not winning the Presidential election in France.

  14. Interesting post and great links, Ellee. Happy Easter!

  15. We’ll be voting on-line before you know what!
    Happy Easter! Arbroath smokies and a shoulder of spring lamb for me, too young to have seen a buttercup.

  16. I really enjoyed the video, Ellee. It seems so much more interesting than watching Blair and Brown slug it out! Happy Easter to you to.

  17. It’s interesting how the internet seems to play more of a role now in politics.

    Happy Easter, Ellee!

  18. More on the French elections is here.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ellee Seymour - MCIPR, PRESS CONSULTANT, JOURNALIST, POLITICAL AND PR BLOGGER. » Our missed IT election opportunities - [...] Whatever the outcome, I am disappointed that we did not use this last year to further develop political campaiging…
  2. Matthew Scott » Blog Archive » The Day That Was Saturday 7 April - [...] And Ellee Seymour writes this great article about blogging in the French Presidential elections. [...]

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