Elections elections elections

There have been three high-profile elections settled in the last day or so.

France now has a new president, Nicolas Sarkozy. The DA has a new leader, Helen Zille. And the UK saw local government as well as Scottish/Welsh assembly elections.

I had the misfortune to come across the Sarkozy news on a site called Little Green Footballs (don’t ask what I was doing there). The comments on the post announcing the result were enough to depress me; they were the epitomy of unthinking mob mentality – basically Americans celebrating the victory of their candidate making inane one-liners, such as It is great to see the Fwrench people taking baby steps in figuring out what is happening to their country. Yes, quite.

I wouldn’t suggest reading any further if you value your brain, unless you like picking fights. Of course the same thing has happened amogst his opponents, attempting to characterise him as Bush or Blair. Perhaps, perhaps not, but there are interesting times ahead for France.

Sarkozy seems a smart politician. He’s gained an extraordinary amount of support from the right wing in the US – perhaps it’s desperation at having a possible international friend, now that Tony Blair is on the way out. Sarkozy has been quite open with his admiration of certain American characteristics, particularly economic. However, he’s also been quite clear in his opposition to the US invasion. Such subtleties are refreshing in the with us or against us Bush era (and the comments on the lgf site certainly see him as for the US. Being liked by many is a good political trait – and it does matter. Leadership is about pushing your followers a little further than they’d be comfortable to go – the most radical changes are often put through by those who have the support of those opposing the changes – think FW De Klerk, the verkrampte (conservative) candidate of the National Party, shocking everyone by announcing the end of apartheid.

Of course it also matters what he does, but Sarkozy at least is bound to more effective at what he does than recent French leaders.

Helen Zille’s victory in the DA election is probably the least surprising. She won by a landslide, getting 786 votes, to Joe Seremane’s 65, and Athol Trollip’s 228. She’s been quite good as mayor of Cape Town. Caring more about Cape Town than the DA, I’m a little disappointed that she’ll be dividing her efforts between the two.

Finally, the UK elections. Walton has kept me on top of the Scottish elections in particular. The results have been quite disappointing (and that’s not mentioning the spoilt vote farce), with the smaller parties wiped out, as the Scots have rallied behind the one-policy Scottish National Party, while in the rest of the UK the Labour-Conservative two-step continues. In Wales, Plaid Cymru, who also favour independence from the UK, have also grown in strength.

What was news to me, which I discovered thanks to Walton, is that Scottish (and Welsh) nationalism is actually quite inclusive. They don’t follow the usual anti-immigration etc. policies of many national parties. The first Scottish parliament member of Asian descent takes the position courtesy of the SNP, and similarly in Wales courtesy of Plaid Cymru.

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One Reply to “Elections elections elections”

  1. I don’t know if I would call the SNP a one policy party, though I think they were in the past. They’ve toned down their independece rhetoric a little, and picked up a lot of support from people who are in favour of more power to the Scottish Parliament within the UK.

    I think what attracted these people to the SNP is the party’s opposition to Iraq, nuclear energy and the replacement of the Trident missile system.

    There’s an SNP trade union bloc as well now (as well as the Asian Scot one you mentioned), and some people think they’re a better political home for progressives than Labour.

    Of course, it might all be cynicism on the part of the SNP.

    But what you say about nationalism is correct: in Scotland, nationalism is civic rather than racial, so Hamid the bus driver, who was born on Pollkshields and speaks with a Glaswegian accent, is (correctly) considered a Scot, where as the Clan Chief of the American branch of the Macleods (or any major clan) is just some American wanker in a kilt.

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