France's presidential candidates are starting to map out some new territory online, and not all of it seems worthy of the leader of a nation with nuclear weapons:
Presidential contenders — led by Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal — are pouring resources and creative-thinking into the Internet on an unprecedented scale, targeting young voters and the many others jaded by politics as usual and hungry for fresh approaches after the 12-year presidency of Jacques Chirac.
The expanded role of "Le Web" in this election race is also playing into concerns that image-management is trumping concrete and coherent debate about the nation's many social and economic problems. ....
Sarkozy's site http://www.discosarko.com is part of an effort to market the interior minister as hip and in-touch with the times and to collect contact details from potential supporters. It asks visitors to leave e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers so they can be reached ahead of the April-May presidential vote.
[I hope that Quebec's inquisitorial Ofice Quebecois de la Langue Francaise is paying attention to the amount of "franglais" the likely leader of France allows at his site. Visitors are urged...
si tu es fan de disco sarko, inscris toi pour tout savoir sur sa life [“if you are a fan of disco sarko, subscribe to learn all about his life”]Meanwhile, France's Socialist Party presidential candidate, Segolene Royal, is not be outdone online:
Royal's supporters, following an example set by the extreme-right National Front party, this month opened an office in "Second Life," a virtual world where users create avatars, move about, chat, buy land, build homes and do business.
"Come in large numbers and you'll find me there," Royal said in an online video posting to inaugurate the virtual headquarters, which drew a steady stream of visitors last week.
Here is the video of Royal's introduction, from her official website: "I am pleased to inaugurate the 748th Future Dreams committee, on Second Life. I therefore inaugurate this magnificient building that has just been constructed along the Environmental High Quality standards, that is, the same as that of the "Kyoto High School" that I had built in the Poitou-Charentes region, and inside which the same participatory debates, the same debates on the presidential project, will take place. So come in large numbers and you'll find me there!"
Personally, I am having a hard time deciding whether Sarkozy disco dancing is sillier than Segolene Royal bragging that a building made of pixels is meeting Kyoto environmental standards...
Still, virtual world politics is quickly getting as nasty as its real world counterpart, if we are to believe this story of virtual protestors:
The "Second Life" presence of the anti-immigration, ultra-nationalist National Front has prompted protests and even violent virtual clashes between supporters and opponents. One group of players — who call themselves "Second Life Left Unity" — moved in next to the National Front's office and vowed to carry out protests there "until FN go or are ejected."
Virtual campaigning in the only place where Segolene Royal's socialist policies have a chance of working as advertised: an imaginary world.