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Monday, 27 February 2012

"CHEESE" - it's the annual Salon d'Agriculture...and election year

Watching the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, making his way around the annual Salon d'Agriculture in Paris on Saturday was more than just a little surreal.

Salon d'Agriculture (screenshot TF1 news)

Surrounded by a heaving scrum of journalists armed with microphones and cameras, Sarkozy spent over four hours at the show in his official capacity but, this being an election year, much more was riding on his presence and of course his behaviour.

Few will forget his now infamous 2008 visit to the show and the "Casse toi, pauvre con" mark he left on it.

And, on several occasions since, he has not exactly endeared himself to France's farmers with some of his comments.

He's also a devout towny - born and bred - who, according to political journalist Michaël Darmon, has always insisted that when he has been zapping around the country in his official capacity, he manages to avoid, in so far as possible, staying overnight in "the provinces".

But Darmon says Sarkozy's advisors have done their work and he also seems to have realised the importance of appearing to be a friend of the country's farmers, to such an extent that a recent opinion poll showed him to be well ahead in their voting intentions.

Farmers may have apparently been won over, but does anybody else really believe that Sarkozy actually enjoys nibbling on the smelliest of cheeses, watching cows being milked or having to pat a handsome horse?

Nicolas Sarkozy at the Salon d'Agriculture (screenshot TF1 news)

Somehow it just all seems to be too contrived and so very far from the obvious enjoyment displayed by his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, who always appeared to be at ease taking a healthy swig of whatever was pressed into his hand or tucking in to regional produce.

Still, four hours of pressing the flesh and proving to the French electorate that he is every much a child of rural France as the next man or woman is an essential part of Sarkozy's road to re-election.

And it's one all the other candidates will have to endure or enjoy if they wish to replace him at the Elysée palace.

The day after Sarkozy's visit, it was the turn of François Bayrou, leader of the centrist Mouvement démocrate (Democratic Movement, MoDem) party and there was no real difficulty for the "son of a farming family" as he is always eager to point out.

Once again Bayrou appeared to be in his element

Tuesday should be more "interesting" though as the Socialist party candidate François Hollande has promised to spend a marathon 10 hours at the show.

That's an awful lot of cheese!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why farmers should vote for Sarkozy is a wonder! Apparently he does not even drink wine, so he doesn't make a very good ambassador of what the French do best, and is celebrated at the Salon, food & wine. I would vote for Bayrou myself if I had the right to vote - I saw pictures of him on a tractor, and he seems to know what the farming world is about.

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