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Political make-up
by Thanos Kalamidas
2006-11-19 10:31:43
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In a very American way for European politics, the French Socialist Party members elected Mrs. Segolene Royal to be the presidential candidate for the party at next year's election. Her victory over her Socialist colleagues, former Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn and ex-Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, came as no surprise and avoided a second round of voting. Now, the 53-year-old mother-of-four hopes to become France's first woman president.

The first thing Mrs. Royal said was, "To be chosen in this way is something extraordinary, I want to embody change and give it credibility and legitimacy. And I think today, I have received this legitimacy." And this is the part where you pause to think.

I have to admit that I am thrilled with the idea that a major European country like France finally will have a woman as president. This will highlight the point that equality is a total reality in Europe, at least between sexes, and all discrimination is long forgotten. Another pause!

So, is this it? Is this the solution for a change to our political world? Next year is going to be rather interesting. Hillary Clinton might be candidate for president in the USA and Segolene Royal is definitely a candidate in France. Is a woman candidate resulting in female president the change for which we were looking?

The truth is that the socialists and center-left parties all around the world have been going through a major crisis for the last two decades, including the Labour Party in the UK and the Democratic Party in the USA. It seems that all of them have a major identity problem after using conservative methods for so long and politics that often highly contrasted their own philosophy. So, is the solution promoting a woman for the president's position?

I don't know much about Mrs. Royal, only what I have read from the news agencies and, personally, anybody opposite Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy has my full support. But is this enough? Make a front to stop Sarkozy? Is this where socialist philosophy starts and ends? And the same applies to Mrs. Clinton, does she have what it takes to be a president of the USA or is just good P.R. to have a woman as a candidate? The question should be: Do we sacrifice everything to get into government?

I'm not dismissing Mrs. Royal, on the contrary, but here comes the other thing that made pause. Every time any of her opponents asked her something, her immediate reaction was male chauvinism, since all her opponents were men. Is this the way to prove that we are moving forward and does the French Socialist Party think that that it will stop people thinking about the increasing unemployment, criminality, bad health system and education?

I'm not sure, but somehow, however much I want to be happy for her election, I cannot stop myself from pausing to think. Perhaps this has to do with the former experience of Mrs. Margaret Thatcher. When Maggie was elected, everybody was expecting that somebody who had experienced work discrimination and prejudice on many levels would make the difference. Ten years after she was proved to be a disaster in any simple sense, most of all regarding social policy. The only person who did worst than her regarding social issues as prime minister is Tony Blair, who ironically is Labour.

The only thing we can hope for is that the election of Mrs. Segolene Royal as the presidential candidate for the next election in France and the possible election of Mr. Hillary Clinton for the American presidential elections will not be political cosmetics, but a serious change in political ethics.

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