"Mr Chirac however insisted that his decision was a principled one."
It still took him two days to come at such a conclusion, while his spokewoman Roselyne Bachelot said on Sunday night he "of course" would accept a TV debate. The backpedaling started yesterday, when Chirac’s crew members said he was the one to make the decision, but that it would fit in the "republican tradition." Then they suggested an "American style debate", where candidates, well, don’t debate face-to-face, but face a camera and answer the same questions one after the other (FWIW that’s never how it’s been done here.) I almost forgot to mention that Chirac refused to debate (on March 20) with a group of other candidates before the first round.
I’m used to a bit more accurate reporting from the BBC. Le Pen didn’t describe the Holocaust as a detail of history, he said "gas chambers are a detail of WWII history." No comment, my readers are grown-ups who don’t need my moral patronization – yes that’s a hint to the Socialists. I also don’t understand why the BBC chart doesn’t tell the far-left apart from the left.
Overall, self-appointed paragons of virtue, lesson-givers, and armchair defenders of freedom of all kinds display a strange lack of respect for the very democracy they claim to cherish. 31% of voters chose extremists, and all we get is finger-pointing between political parties and by the media. What will they all do about the situation that led 12 million people not to vote or vote blank, while another 9 million voted for left and right extremes? The demonstration that this country is a wreck is less in the high vote for Le Pen, than in the petty and contemptuous reactions of our pseudo-elite. At least Jospin left with some dignity, which however shouldn’t lead us to forget he blatantly lied about his Trostkyist past ("you must mistake me for my brother.")
Alain Madelin, a more or less "free market libertarian" that probably comes closest among French politicians to what people are used to in the anglosphere (as well as where I stand myself, though I don’t like the individual too much), got less than 4%, while the other 96% of voters chose various brands of statist candidates (ok, Bayrou might want a lighter state too.) It’s really high time that I voted with my feet (I’m working on it!)
For people who love maps, here’s how votes for the three top candidates are mapped on the territory. Older elections are featured here. Notice the use of the brown color on these ones, in case you didn’t understand already (I really love it when the media stop reporting the news and tell me what to think of it.)
04/24/02 update: La le