The French face the same choice that most of the democratic nations face. I use that term, knowing that there is of course a great deal of variation about how much and how free elections are in the so called democratic nations. I very much doubt that there is a nation in the world that does not have ‘forces’ acting against true democracy. Yes it is all there on paper, or in the constitution but it is money and pressure groups that have an influence on the final result.
France has some hard choices to make. It has an economy that is at risk and while it is a strong player in the European sphere and indeed in the world, it faces a similar crisis to that Greece faced and still faces--- debt, debt and still more debt. Some of this has originated from a desire to curry favour with the electorate and keep living standards high--- a subsidized economy and large public service.
I am not saying those things are bad. Indeed, now that we are facing cuts to our public service, I am a strong critic of that road to economic salvation.
The candidates in the French election could not be more different in style, personality and policy. One wants to spend and one wants to cut. One is flamboyant and the other more demure. One will try to steal the far right vote and appeal to the racists fringes, whilst not admitting it, while the other will present a picture of tolerance and unfortunately he will be fighting a growing trend all over Europe to bring in the race card.
The election this weekend will not solve the underlying problems--- it will just be a changing of the guard, assuming that the polls have correctly picked the winner. I would not want to be in the shoes of the winner. As with NZ, unless politicians can act in a way that is not totally tied to the ballot box, then we will get the same old, same old.
Good luck France.