Mon, May 07, 2012
World > Europe > 2012 French Election

French election not likely to bring change

2012-05-07 10:42:41 GMT2012-05-07 18:42:41(Beijing Time)  Global Times

A man walks past posters of French presidential candidates Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy Sunday in a polling station at the French embassy in Beijing. Photo: IC

The French presidential election runoff was held Sunday and Sarkozy's fate has been decided with no miracle happening. Francois Hollande has won the election in the final polling.

Looking back at what Sarkozy has done in the past five years, there seems to be little left except for gossip about him and his high-profile wife, plus his emotional speeches. In fact, politicians in Western countries seem to share this tendency toward celebrity-style performances. It is difficult to say whether this is good or bad.

The Western world lacks a clear goal for moving their countries forward. It is stuck in a mixed feeling of superiority and anxiety before emerging nations. Few politicians are seriously pondering the solution to this puzzle, instead offering only sweet promises to woo voters. Elections have given rise to more bad practices, and their ability to solve the problems is declining.

An administration change cannot generate the strong will needed to kick-start public debt reform in France. The change has to come from reflection of a wider scope. But protests against austerity measures from Greece to France have suggested that this much-needed reflection is far from coming. Statesmen are busy pleasing voters, not leading reflection.

The idea of democracy is spreading wider. There are few countries today that can survive with authoritarian governments. Meanwhile, the democratic system is creating an increasing number of problems in Western countries.

From neighboring Japan to faraway France, China has witnessed the power of democracy, and also the damage it can do if it goes to extremes.

A late starter in democratic reform, China needs political wisdom to understand the complexity of this era, and its own different historical and social context. Clearing away the feudal influence left from thousands of years and clearly framing democratic boundaries are both important to China's political structure. What is worrying is that democratic rights enjoy much higher political acclaim in China's sphere of public opinion. In cyberspace, ideas such as necessary restriction of democratic rights have few takers. The real world cannot be ruled by a few simple slogans that are popular online.

The French election saga, eye-catching as it is, looks like a waste of the French people's political passion. In countries with a weaker social governance base, political games can incur broad social disaster.

Democracy and ability to lead are both crucial to any country, as has been proved by China's reform and the twisting roads of Western countries. China has plenty of room to make major political decisions. It should not drive itself into a blind alley.


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