La belle France

Sarkozy & Segoleyne Royal. An unlikely duet, finished with a hard awakening. The French perhaps elected the very person who promised to “destroy” the essence of their joy de vivre and their character. Interestingly, Sarko benefited mostly from 61% of voters in their 60s and from 68% of those over 68, while Sego was voted massively by the internet generation: 58% of those from 18 to 24 years old. Paradoxically, the elder voters (who chose Sarkozy) chose their President while knowing they will not be affected by his claimed moves or “reforms”.

All this and more is reported in a nice and pleasantly ironic piece by The Guardian, by Stuart Jeffries: Goodbye to la belle France?. In his article, Mr. Jeffries argues also that the Anglo-Saxons’ puritan-protestant work ethics is light-years away from the French way of life, where people can enjoy and savour life in a deeper and more sensual way. Meanwhile, the French have the best health-care system in the world, the best transportation system, a 35-hour workweek and, of course, a very high quality of life. Menaced by Sarko? Quite the contrary, most of the analysts say. He won’t dare change a penny, or people will immediately protest en masse. He cannot change the “social” nature of the State, either, for the same reasons. But he should work on the inequalities of French society, especially among those of different ethnic origin, and recent graduates, who enjoy an 11% unemployment rate.

The Anglo-Saxons (in both the UK and the US) simply enjoy visiting France (as well as Spain and Italy, for quite the same reasons). They like to check the different lifestyles (wine, fat but not fast foods, the unwinding of the day, etcetera) and go back to their own two-week vacation yearly. Meanwhile, the snobbish French don’t want to be like them: they “abhor the liberal economies of the Anglo-Saxon countries, not to mention their condescension towards their taste”.

Well, Sarkosy has promised the French he will destroy the 35-hour workweek (but he hardly will do so), and bring France closer to the American or British economies. Merde! Meanwhile, we all just lost the chance of having a splendid creature like Sego as France’s new President.

A few data reported in the article:

Population living below the poverty line (for two adults and one child)
US: 12%. France: 6.2%

Minimum wage
US: varies widely from state to state – no such thing in Alabama. France: €8.27

Usual retirement age
US: 65-67. France: 60

Prison population
US: 2 million plus. France: 50,500 plus

Number of murders a year
US: 16,692. France: approx 1,000

Number of overweight citizens
US: a little more than two thirds. France: a little under one third

About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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