Sunday, May 22, 2005

Our French brothers... 

...we feel your pain:
The debate over the benefits and the drawbacks of the [EU] treaty has not only divided France, it has also bitterly split France's journalists over the nature of their coverage. A group of journalists from French state TV and radio are so angered by what they see as one-sided propaganda campaign being broadcast on the airwaves on behalf of the government and the Yes campaign that they have set up an online petition, signed by more than 15,000 people since 1 May...

With accusations of media bias springing up daily on all sides - the No campaigners are using the web as never before.

This is the first major campaign in France in which the internet has become a key weapon, with bloggers and internet-users becoming the No campaign's front-line troops - not just in terms of influencing public opinion but also in rallying the French public to attend its campaign events.

The Socialist MP Jack Lang - spokesman for the left's official Yes campaign - has already warned that his side is in danger of losing the "cyber-debate" because of the strength of the No campaign on the web.
I'm sure we're all having deja vu at this point, except that since France does not have any significant centre-right political movement in a sense we could understand (pro-democracy foreign policy, small government, free market, etc.), it's pretty difficult to identify and empathize with either side. As I've written before, most of the French political establishment, including what over there passes for the right as well as the Socialists, supports the "yes" vote and therefore the further growth of the European superstate, while the majority of the population, it seems, doesn't, spurred on by a motley coalition of the far-left and far-right who think that the EU is some sort of a grand Anglo-Saxon free market conspiracy. As Kissinger said about the Iran-Iraq war, it's a pity that both sides can't lose.

Still, the potential future implications of the "no" vote - if that's indeed what's going to happen on May 29 - will be huge, and not just in the obvious sense of temporarily derailing the European project, but also in terms of demonstrating the benefits of "people power" to the cowed European population. If the citizens, armed only in pajamas, keyboards and grass-roots tenacity, can defeat their elites exercising an almost total political, intellectual, cultural and media monopoly, then who knows where it might all lead? Although arguably unless more Europeans start making sense on foreign policy, defense, economic and social issues, nowhere good. Still, if you are a cynical Anglo-Saxon, you are bound to enjoy some of the divide and conquer (or just divide) going on.


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