At midnight on Sunday, France’s official election campaign began meaning all 12 candidates are allocated equal air time, preventing any serious debate and providing a real headache for broadcasters. (The schedule of the France 3 news broadcast to which I was invited in the wee hours of Monday morning was shown just after midnight, granting freedom to the late Sunday night political debate that squeezed in just before the deadline). By putting him on a par with Segolene and Sarkozy, this quaint but arcane law has blasted unknowns such as Gérard Schivardi, a mayor from a south-western village who is backed by Trotskyite Worker’s Party into public consiousness. The problem with Schivardi is that thanks to his accent, noone has a clue what he is saying. Still, there is something quite wonderful about the fact that Mr. Nobody (with enough buddies among elected officials) can shoot from obscurity with little or no money and participate in the debate. Each voter they attract is someone who failed to be inspired by the main candidates.
Posters for all 12 contenders went up in front of voting centres Monday. By Monday evening the images of Sarkozy and Le Pen had already been defaced at this school just yards from my home.