Friday, September 22, 2006

These days I am reading a very good book by Jonathan Fenby. An English journalist and francophile, married to a Jewish Frenchwoman, Fenby - like me and so many others - seems to have a complicated love-hate relationship with France. He has lived there for many years, he knows the language and the ins and outs of the country's politics, society and culture. He writes extensively about the contradictions and polarization that characterize the country and its people throughout their history. The edition that I read refers constantly to the 2002 presidential elections, in which Jean Marie Le Pen - and not the Socialists' Lionel Jospin - entered the face-off with Jacques Chirac in the second round, after having won 16.9 percent of the votes in the first round. In the second round he even got the vote of 700.000 more Frenchmen and -women, 17.8 percent of all votes in that round ( which had a higher turnout than the first round ). With the next presidential elections only seven months away, Daniel Ben Simon tells us that it is feared that Mr Le Pen - if he is going to be the NF candidate, which despite his age but because of his popularity is likely - could repeat his achievement or even improve it. Like their Israeli counterparts, the sane Right and Left - as opposed to the fanatical, simplistic, anti-America/anti-globalization/anti-Israel-and-or-Semitic ( and I almost added pro-terror, but that would be simplistic as well ) Left, and the extremist, anti-foreigner/Islam/Semitic Right - have a lot of work to do in Europe, it seems.

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