Dissing the French Candidates

The French haven’t given up on good old graffiti and they still do strange and interesting things to campaign posters—blacking out the eyes, painting red noses on the candidates. But in this presidential race the dissident instinct has found its greatest expression on the Web. France now has an estimated 18 million people with Internet access from their homes.

The candidates were quick to use this pipeline to bypass strict laws about equal time on TV and radio, as well as bans on broadcast advertising. Targeting young voters, the political machines have tried to portray their candidates as being in touch with the times. Commentary posted by students and pranksters, bored browsers and dirty tricksters on YouTube.com, DailyMotion.com and other sites is often much more amusing.

What follows is a sampling of perspectives on the race between Socialist Ségolène Royal and conservative Nicolas Sarkozy as seen from the Web. If "Sarko" seems to be targeted more often than "Ségo," that's probably because his hyperkinetic personality and tough-guy rep as interior minister provide richer material for caricature. He also has many admirers, of course, and they may well give him the presidency on May 6. But it seems they prefer posting their songs and reports about him on www.sarkozy.fr or perhaps in the virtual world he's had created for himself at in "Second Life.”

Ségolène Royal’s blog/official website: http://www.desirsdavenir.org/

Official Socialist Party Web site: http://www.parti-socialiste.fr/

Ségosphere: http://www.segosphere.net/cs/

Compilation of hundred’s of Sego Web sites and videos: http://www.segolene-video.org/

Debat 2007 (roundup of candidates’ campaign promises): http://www.debat2007.fr/

Nicholas Sarkozy’s official Web site – NS TV and video links: http://www.sarkozy.fr/video/

Nicholas Sarkozy’s supporters’ Web site: http://www.supportersdesarkozy.com/home

Official UMP Web site: http://www.u-m-p.org/