Another Reason To Love The French

If Brigitte Bardot, chocolate éclairs, and the poetry of Jacques Prévert are not reasons enough to love the French, here is another. Le Monde reports that fewer than 7% of the French “of all social classes and political inclinations” would cast ballots for John McCain if they could vote in the U.S. election. My thanks to Dan Suits for translating this:

The Bush Heritage Damages McCain in the World
by Nicolas Bourcier LE MONDE | 17.10.08 |
translated by Daniel B. Suits

The great world-wide popularity of Barack Obama, Democratic candidate for the White House is not a novelty. On the other hand, the aversion raised by his Republican adversary is, indeed, one. In an investigation of opinion on the perception of the United States and the stakes in the American presidential election, conducted simultaneously in eight countries (Belgium, Canada, France, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, Poland and Switzerland), and which Le Monde is publishing in partnership with seven other newspapers, the Republican candidate would be swept aside systematically if the persons questioned were voting.

According to the surveys, none of the countries consulted would provide more than 26% of its votes to John McCain. France appears as the country where the Republican candidate is rejected most strongly by public opinion. According to the study conducted in the Hexagon by TNS Sofres/Logica October 8 and 9, the Senator from Arizona collected his worst result, among all social class and all political inclinations. The Swiss and the Belgians followed with 7% and 8%. In Mexico and Canada, sharing frontiers with the United States, McCain reached 13% and 14%. The British, the most faithful allies of the present Republican administration, provide the death blow with a humiliating 15%.

Aside from Poland and Mexico, McCain is considered as “a bad” or “very bad” possible president by a majority of public opinion. On the same question, the Democratic candidate once more dominates his rival. For the overwhelming majority of those questioned, all countries combined, the Senator from Illinois would be a “good” or “very good” president.

This rejection of John McCain seems to have its origin in the go-to-war image that he cultivated for months if not for years. Continue the war in Iraq, increase the military in Afghanistan, eventual bombing Iran: the bellicose words of the Republican candidate do not pass in world public opinion. His program and the type of leadership he intends to exercise are largely perceived as a risk factor.

The verdict of the surveys on the presence of American troops in Iraq is beyond appeal. Between 73 and 88 percent of those questioned hope to see the next American president withdraw the armed forces from the region. A majority demand immediate departure in the coming year.

Still more interesting, the Republican candidate has totally failed to distinguish his electoral campaign from the policies conducted for eight years by George Bush. Through John McCain, it is the record of the out-going president that is criticized. A very large majority of those questioned – except in Poland – had a bad opinion of the United States since Bush came to office in 2001: 86% of Swiss respondents, 77% of Canadians, 75% of the French and 67% of the British. In almost all the countries, these same figures represent the scores obtained by candidate Barack Obama against John McCain.

But, although this rejection of the Bush years is nearly unanimous, it seems not to have brought the friendship of these countries for America into question, as was already shown by a similar study conducted in 2004.

In fact, the relations they maintain with the United States are seen, very realistically, as those of a cordial understanding mixed with a necessary neutrality. Only 28% of the Mexicans mentioned the tension between their country and its great neighbor to the North. In France, 25% did.

Who is the world superpower today? This question was not part of the surveys conducted, but it was asked by Sofres in France and by the daily /Gazeta Wyborcza/ in Poland. In the Polish inquiry, the United States came in first with 46%, followed by China with 32%. The order was reversed in France, where 49% of those questioned said China has become the great power of the moment, far ahead of the United States with 34%.

But this difference fades when it is a matter of making a forecast for the twenty years to come. The Poles and the French who were asked, believe that China will be the superpower of tomorrow, definitely replacing the United States. Rather bad news for the next inhabitant of the White House.

Article paru dans l’édition du 18.10.08

If you haven’t travelled outside the U.S., you may not know how much the rest of the world knows, and cares, about the U.S. election. Check out Voices without Votes: “America votes. The world speaks.”

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One Response to Another Reason To Love The French

  1. alex says:

    This is true all over Western Europe, I believe while Eastern Europe is more of a reddish colour (hmmm). In The Netherlands, cabinet ministers have gone on record saying they would vote for Obama.

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