Vive la France!

[Megan] Wondering what to make of this weekend's events in France?  We have the whole scoop over on Certain Ideas of Europe, The Economist's new European blog.

As I write, a panel of politicians, including Ms Royal’s partner, François Hollande (who is the Parti Socialiste’s “first secretary”, or boss) is already examining the entrails of today’s vote. Mr Hollande is pouring as much cold water as possible on the victory speech just given to his cheering supporters by Mr Sarkozya speech notable for its grace towards Ms Royal and for the message that “Sarko” intends to appeal to all of the French, not just those on the right.

There will, of course, be another two weeks of this, and it is entirely possible that Sarko’s wish for a battle of “ideas” with “Ségo” will evolve into a nasty battle of personalities. But in the meantime, French democracy has performed rather impressively. The turnout is said to be around four-fifths of the electorate. In my local village, the mayor chose to put the voting booths on the top floor of the mairiebut a steady stream of old ladies (proof, surely, that French women have the western world’s longest life expectancy) joined the young and fit to climb the stairs and cast their ballots for France’s future. Having witnessed not just today’s vote but also France’s 2002 election and America’s 2004 election, I have to say that Americanswho love to deride the French, and vice versacould certainly learn a thing or two from the land of the Gauls: no hanging chads, no dodgy computer systems, no accusations of voting skulduggery. On the other hand, the discussions in the TV studios are just as interminable.