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There is something very interesting happening currently in French Politics, which might be a sign of things to come in general politics in the future. 

As you might, and should know the French Presidental elections are coming up in several months.  It will offer the french a choice to redress the mistake they made during the 2002 elections or to choose a path which would lead them eventually down the same road as England, Germnay and other more conservatie and capitalists states. 

With this on their mind, the two main parties in France, the Socialist Party (PS) and the Conservatives (UMP), have their presidential candidacy elections.  The PS will have theirs this coming week, and the conservatives in a month or so.  For the past year, the top candidates in the polls have been Segolene Royal of the socialists, and Nicolas Sarkozy of the Conservatives.  I will not talk about Sarkozy, because i don’t want to and because he is the worst thing that could happen to france if, god-forbid, he gets elected.  This currenty story of interest surrounds the Socialists.

As it turns out the there are three candidates for the Socialists presidential nominee.  The aforementioned Segolene Royal a relative unknown until the last couple of years, who despite being with the socialists for many years, has not had much ministerial experience, the annoying Laurent Fabius, a former prime minister under Francois Mitterand, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, an economist and former minister.  Whereas Fabius is the most ‘radical’ of the three, he is not presidential material, as he is annoying, not a team player, and egotistical. On the other hand, Mr. Strauss-Kahn (DSK) is far enough on the right among the socialists to garner a good bit of votes from conservatives. 

segolene royaleThe biggest surprise during the past year, was the rise of Madame Royale to top of polls, without her having to do much.  The idea of a first female french president is an appealing one, and she is clever enough of a politician, to never rock the boat, and let things come to her and let bad things bounce off of her leaving her always very graceful and poised.  She has good socialists values, although she does tend also to be a bit of a family values kind of a politician. Yet she is a bit of mystery, since most of her political views are not very clearly known. 

During the past year, the media has basically been covering the coming elections as a battle between Royale and Sarkozy, even though DSK and fabius having been trying hard to get popularity from socialist voters.  And then suddenly a few days ago, this happened:

03:09 – November 10, 2006

Somebody shot this video, secretly, during a meeting in January 2006, of the socialist leadership, where she porposes a 35-hour work week for teachers.  This is a big deal in france.  Now if you are not familiar with french lifestyle and politics, and moreover tend to believe what you hear from anglophone media, you will say what’s the big deal, and the french are spoiled.  Yes, the french have a shorter work week than most other countries, yet they are teh second most productive country in europe, (after germany i believe) and far ahead of the likes of England, where people have to work much much more and are less productive.  It is the french way, and it works for them.

Furthermore, the idea of having a 35 hour work week for a teacher is absurd.  Currently in france, full-time for a teacher is 18 hours per week. That is 18 hours IN FRONT OF THE CLASS per week.  What nobody ever mentions is that, a teacher, does as much work at home, if not more, as he or she does in front of the class.  Whether is preparations of course material, or documetns, or papers, or marking.  That is all work that has to be done at home, and which does NOT count in that 18 hours.  So considering for example that i woul dhave 12 classes to teach if i am in Junior high, with on average 30 students per class, i would 360 items to mark each time.  AND THAT HAS TO BE DONE AT HOME, AND DOES NOT COUNT IN WORK HOURS. On top of that, a teacher’s salary is not very high, although it is a lifetime position.  On average a teacher of 20 years experience, will earn around 2500 euros/month, maximum.  That does NOT translate to a very high salary. However, there are many benefits that come with the job in terms insurances and whatnot.  And so even monetarily the proposal to increase work hours without increasing pay is unrealistic and absurd.

So the idea of a 35 hour work week is absurb for a teacher. Regardless of the country.  However my point for this article is not that.

The release of this video, anonymously, one week before the socialist party elections, has caused Royale’s lead in the polls which was over 20 % to drop to barely 2% over DSK.  Which is absolutely incredible.  Furthermore once we actually listen to what she is saying, is NOT that teahers should teach 35 hours in front of the class, but that they keep their 18 hours of class time, but stay in teh school for 35 hours, and for example give assitance courses and some such things (the whole debate was brought up because of numerous teachers moonlighting with private tutoring academies).  That in itself still needs to be worked out properly (it is far easier to work at home, where we ahve desks and computers than at school, where these are not available), yet it is a far cry from the blanket statement of "35 hours work week for teachers". 

My point is that, this is video that was obviously taken by someone’s portable phone during this meeting, way back in january.  Yet, somehow, it was released, anonymously, a week before the elections, and it has completely overhauled everything.  There is not question in my mind that this was a sabotage job by one of his rivals, who have attacked her vehemently on this very issue during recent debates.  The irony is that Mr. DSK is right wing enough that he is a backer of this notion, although i doubt he’d admit to it BEFORE the elections. 

But the deed is done.  Even if Segolene Royale does end up winning the presidential nomination, this has shown us perhaps how political campaigns can be won and lost in teh future.  Very simply rivals can film one another during meetings, using simple easy to hide camera phones, and you keep that, until just before the election.  You put it on YouTube, or GoogleVideo, or Sandbox, or one of the many other such web services, you give a little call to a newspaper, saying look at this video, and without spending another penny, you bring down your opponent!  Simple as that.

On the other hand, i wouldn’t be surprised if this causes politicians to never actually be open with each other, even in their own meetings amongst the elite and the leadership. 

Nonetheless, it has been a fascinating phenomenon, and within a week we shall see the results!

[tags] segolene, royale, strass kahn, fabius, video, teachers, enseignants, 35 heures semaine, week [/tags]

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Iraq’s New Democracy

 Here it is.  A new survey by Johns Hopkins University has put the estimate of Iraqi deaths since the 2003 american invasion, at 655,000. I'm going to rewrite that in large letters for those who need to see it in large letters:

 an estimated 655,000 iraqis have died since the illegal american invasion of 2003

You know, you have to congratulate the United States of America.  They managed to do in a meager 3 years, what one of the worst dictators of the 20th century was unable to achieve in over 40 years of tyrannical reign.  

This should shed some light in the eyes of even those idiots who justified their country's illegal invasion of a sovereign nation under false pretences and fabricated documents, by saying that at least we got rid of that dicatator Saddam.  Yea well, i bet iraqi's are looking back at the days of saddam hussein with fond memories.  At least their mortality rate wasn't a humanitarian catastrophe.  

good for you america.  And you american, if you were real patriots, if you really cared for your country, you'd stand up and do something about your government's beligerence, before every other country on this planet decides that they are better off without the country named United States of America. If you were true patriots, you would have realized this long ago, and done something about it.

Otherwise it would be interesting to look at the history books in the year 3000, when in one little box they make a mention the brief but catastrophic reign of the United States Wannabe empire, and how they crashed and burned like every other tyrannical empire before them.

[tags]United States, america, bush, US, Iraq, death toll, Johns Hopkins, invasion of iraq[/tags] 

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