It is little to say that I am disappointed this morning. The French election first round results are there and I am only seeing an all too usual pair in the qualified for the second round: right against left, pro-business conservatives against pro-state conservatives... Nothing really palatable at first glance. This said, this election was already a good thing for some reasons.
First, French people showed eventually that they could vote "en masse" if the proposed debate was up to stir their interest. The quality of this debate and of the candidates was, I believe, a reason for this stunning 84.7% participation. Something unseen, practically, since the founding of the Vth Republic in 1958. For this I am proud of my fellow citizens.
I am a lot less proud of my country's journalists, though. They have shown partiality, narrow mindedness and pettiness. Instead of seeing what was new and interesting in this debate (like millions of French voters rightly did), that is the emergence of a third way in the political debate, they desperately clinched to the old divisions and cliché. The first of them, the Chief Redactor of center left journal Le Monde, Jean-Marie Colombani, couldn't help but fall in that trap. Was it partiality? Was it simply lack of imagination? I would say more probably intellectual laziness. I live the second editorial in three days he wrote for everyone to see. It is not a particularly fair article, neither very responsible. At least the analysis is, I believe, correct.
The center party UDF is now placed in the delicate and more uncomfortable position than may appear at first sight of having to chose who to support. Will François Bayrou stick to its old center right roots and support UMP's Nicolas Sarkozy? I doubt it and I hope not. Will he sell very hard his support to Ségolène Royale. I hope he dares enough for this. I would probably vote for her then, though reluctantly. Actually, his credibility as a politician will hang upon the concessions he will manage to get from his rivals. Only if he seems to get more than what he gives will he be seen as strong and a potentially future President (for 2012). The only other option, and that one could well be preferable for him (as seen by Le Monde too) would be to give a consign of voting blank. I would probably follow that if Sarkozy and Royale refuse to negotiate with him a fair and balanced coalition.
On a sadder note, I was not allowed to vote for this first round. My inscription on the electoral list had been canceled, due to the end of validity of my registration at the French Consulate. Apparently, I was never made aware of this because the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (which centralizes all these mailings, in a typical inefficient French way) didn't have the budget to send a reminding letter. This prevented hundreds of French citizens to vote, depriving them (and me) of their most basic civic rights, one of the only links still binding them to the nation. This was a frustrating experience (having to queue for an hour to discover that), which added to my disappointment at the absence of my favorite candidate in the second round. Round where I will eventually be allowed to vote... but too late to make a difference. Bureaucratic bastards!