Ségolène Royal: A Candidacy for the Current Media Age

Ségolène Royal: A Candidacy for the Current Media Age

With the results of the first round of France's presidential election in, the conventional wisdom says the May 6 runoff between Gaullist Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Ségolène Royal will be decided on the merits of two distinct economic and social visions: Sarkozy's impatient laissez-faire reform vs. Royal's defense of France's traditional welfare state.

But, trumping policy, the results of the election may actually be decided on the strengths of two very different political styles: the first, Sarkozy's, rooted in the political machinery of the past, and the other, Royal's, an as-yet untested strategy tailor-made for the current media age.

The second round may provide the answer to an intriguing question: Is it possible to run a successful election in a modern democracy on the strength of direct, mass-culture appeal, and without being the uncontested leader of a political machine?

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