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Thursday, June 20, 2002


The French go to the polls today.Following the traumatic imbroglio of their presidsential campaign it seems they're at it again. They are its seems a recor number of candidates, an average of 15 in each of the 577 constituencies. An once more, who stands to gain?

"A record number of candidates has raised the prospect of Le Pen's National Front profiting from a split vote.

If no one wins more than half the votes in round one, candidates in each of the constituencies who poll more than 12.5 percent of the registered vote go through to a second and final round next Sunday. The possibility of a split vote in the first round means National Front candidates could qualify for the second round in more than 150 constituencies."

And remember, earleir this week Le Pen was accused of personally applying torture during the war in Algeria. At the risk of being accused of anglo-saxon chauvanism, I can't help thinking of my British Constitution classes years ago at school. The advantage, we were told of the British electoral system was the stability it produced, at the price of a certain lack of fairness. The resulting two party system was supposed to avoid the most pintoresque excesses of the unstable continental political systems (France and Italy come to mind immediately here - remember the English expression for 'Golpe de estado' is 'Coup d'Etat'). La Republique Francaise c'est malade, and it's time for reform, or are we to interpret l'exception culturelle to also cover periodically taking your pants down in public.
Discuss: Is The French Republic In Need Of Reform?

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