March 28, 2007
The Sarkozy intifada?
The first round of voting in the French presidential election looms on April 22. One of the three leading candidates, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been blunt about the need to preserve French culture, has called Muslim "youth" rioters "scum", and has opposed the admission of Turkey to the EU. Accordingly, he has earned enmity of many residents of the high rise housing estate slums surrounding most French cities.
According to the strategic analysis firm Oxford Analytical, Sarkozy is likely to win:
The first round of voting is on April 22. Conservative Sarkozy and his center-left rival Royal should proceed to the second round on May 6, when all but one pollster predicts a Sarkozy victory. Other factors indicate the likelihood of a Sarkozy victory, namely:--the consistency of his polling lead;--his overall credibility;--the Right's overall lead in first-ballot support;--the firmness of his support within his own party; and--the firmness of his support among the electorate.
Now come reports of those Muslim "youths" rioting again. The Astute Bloggers have dubbed these demonstrations "The Sarkozy intifada," attempting to intimidate French voters in the way the Madrid train bombers intimidated the Spanish electorate.
Riot police firing tear gas and brandishing batons clashed Tuesday with bands of youths who shattered windows and looted shops at a major Paris train station, officials said. Nine people were arrested.
Officials said about 100 people were involved in the melee at Gare du Nord, one of Paris' most important transport hubs. Officers and police dogs fired tear gas and charged at groups of marauding youths, some of them wearing hoods and swinging metal bars.
The youths responded by throwing trash cans and other objects at the officers. A group of youths smashed the windows of a sporting goods store and looted boxes of shoes. Others attacked automatic drink dispensers and set fire to an information booth.
Of course, the Spanish voters were also disgusted at the way the government blamed Basque Separatists for the bombs, so the situations are not fully comparable. And as Oxford admits, the run-off election between the two leading candidates following the initial April 22 round could be a bit unpredictable.
But it is clear that one candidate will be the focus of the issue of Muslim assimilation (or lack thereof) in France. Expect further "interesting times" in France, particularly is Sarko's strength continues to firm.