There's a statistic which claims - possibly accurately - that televised political debates have no influence on voting intentions. After listening to last night's debate between President Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande and listeners' reactions on the radio this morning I tend to believe this assumption a little more.
I found Sarkozy much more convincing on every front. Hollande interrupted continually and showed little or no respect for his adversary's right to airtime. As the representative of the political class who has continually criticised the outgoing president's lack of gravitas, the socialist candidate behaved in a fashion we reluctantly equate with the less-desirable denizens of the country's appalling sink estates. Yet many people found the opposite, claiming that Hollande was the more credible candidate, that Sarkozy was vulgar etc. In the end, everyone found more than enough to praise in their chosen candidate. In terms of entertainment it was quite good, but had I listened in just after getting off the latest flying saucer from Mars, I'd have cast my vote for the incumbent. Which just goes to prove my last point, I suppose.
It's easy to be more outspoken and promise more if you've never put your neck on the block, and this situation favours the candidate who has never had to make unpopular decisions. Sarkozy is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I'd feel more comfortable with his brain and knowledge at the helm than that of his spineless, posturing opponent.
Hollande will probably win the second round this Sunday, May 6th. It won't be the end of the world but I'm hoping he'll screw it up sufficiently to send the socialists into the wilderness for the foreseeable future, the way they have been in the UK. With less damage to the country, with any luck…