I admit it, I haven’t been following the French presidential election as closely as I should be. Replacing Jacques Chirac after 12 years is a tall order, especially after all the country has been through recently.
So yesterday, as I followed a group of local French ex-pat bloggers (who knew there were so many of them here?) for a story in today’s Gazette (Page A3), I had to quickly familiarize myself with the playing field: Royal, Sarkozy, Le Pen, Bayrou.
The result came in the moment the polls closed. An online stream from France 24 (they had originally planned to watch it on TV5, but Café Méliès had cable problems) showed a countdown to polls closing, and they immediately called the election for the two expected front-runners.
Making the situation even more anti-climactic was that non-French news sources (Belgian and Swiss news websites and blogs) were posting exit polls hours earlier (and seeing their servers melt with the traffic). Everyone knew the result before the TV announced it.
So without anything interesting happening, I had to come up with a story. I talked to Laurent and Philippe, both of whom voted despite not having lived in France for quite a while, and both of whom had plenty to say about the election. (One thing I like about interviewing bloggers is they always have something to say.)
At 4 p.m. Montreal time, two hours after everything was decided, the group began packing it in, only to get a waiter walking over to say CTV was on its way to interview them. They stuck around for another 15 minutes while reporter Tania Krywiak asked them what they thought of the election.
Consensus seems to be that Sarkozy will take a narrow victory on May 6. But some (like Philippe) think Royal can take enough of centrist Bayrou’s supporters to steal the election, if Bayrou decides to support her.
In 15 days, we’ll know who was right.