French students are revolting

by Peter Watts

Sarkozy supporting students are on the street, leafleting anybody within 20 paces.

Every fifteen minutes another bus load leap to the pavement, eager for instructions and a hand-full of leaflets. They rush off as excited as if heading for a rock concert.

Such activism plays like a counter-cultural revolt when compared to the political apathy that cedes political influence to lobbyists, SuperPACs, and media moguls.

Vibrant societies need public discourse, mobilised from the roots. An under-educated and uninvolved youth, numbed by television, is a dampener on democracy.

What I’m witnessing this morning is the passionate opposite. When you stop and talk with these young people about “Why Sarkozy?”, they don’t parrot a party line. They have specific reasons, to do with maintaining a vibrant France, where there will be both a jobs market and a sense of society for them to join as adults.

Only just old enough to vote, and passionately politically involved.

When someone learns to speak in public, it isn’t just about body language. It’s learning to have that unique voice, to be a participant, and connect with passion.

It’s being like the young people I’m seeing out on the streets of pre-election Paris.

Vive la revolution!


Ancient Danish monarch: Alive and well in French election

by Peter Watts

Paris is becoming politically plastered. Last-minute election posters are popping up everywhere.

One of them has particularly caught my attention:

“La France Forte Avec Nicolas Sarkozy”
“A strong France with Nicolas Sarkozy”

Sarkozy’s choice of visual metaphor for these closing stages of the campaign has him standing against a backdrop of the ocean; He is the valiant protector, guarding the virtue of the nation. But guarding it against what exactly? With France’s two coastlines being south and west, the threat indicated must lie in one or both of these directions.

The two most likely suspects hinted at must therefore be the economic migrants who cross into France from North Africa, and the “Anglo-Saxon” economic models perceived as crossing from the U.K. and America.

Neither are electorally popular, and to put Sarkozy’s election into context, he faces one election challenger who touts state-sanctioned xenophobia, while the other supports generously old-fashioned state funding for absolutely everything.

These posters suggest Sarkozy is attempting to align himself with both opponents. By representing himself as a stern bastion against the evils from over the waves, he has dived for the basest instincts of the electoral base.

In creating this visual metaphor however, the President’s team have missed it’s most obvious symbolism; King Canute.

Depending on your reading of the legend, King Canute either sought to demonstrate the limits of Kingly power to his awestruck subjects, or truly believed he could command the waves to stop.

In either interpretation, the story didn’t end well.

Does this poster indicate that President Sarkozy is about to get his feet wet?

When choosing visuals, beware the unintended message.

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