Thursday, April 17, 2014
French vote shows cracks in democracy
Global Times | April 24, 2012 00:30
By Global Times
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The French presidential election will hold a run-off in May to pick its final winner. Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande and incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy, leading the first round, received 28.63 and 27.08 percent of votes respectively. The next French president will have to come from these two candidates despite their small shows of support.

Policy differences between France's left and right-wing parties are too close to discern today. Instead, candidates' personalities, their wives, and their ability to please the public have become more important.

The input of political capital and the following consequences are much more important than any competition. The election of a top leader has become a rivalry between the incumbent and challenger. This zero-sum game is turned on every five years, attracting nearly the entire political resources of the country.

Democratic elections, an important part of European politics, used to help screen batches of politicians with vision and courage. The public decided who to elect.  And the system contributed to the prosperity of Europe today.

But this system is evolving quickly. Policies have gradually lost focus, giving way to campaigns full of gossip. Candidates sling mud at each other. The election season has changed into a lengthy party, paid for by the country's politics.

A democratic election system has become party of doctrines. To be elected is the only goal, and every possible means is used to win. There is almost no bottom line for the purpose of beating the opponent.

The Western-style democratic system needs reform. It has played a crucial role in preventing autocracy in history. But autocracy is no longer a real threat in Western politics.

The democratic system has lost its sense of purpose, swinging toward commercialism. The flaws of the system are worrying.

Politics in the West lack focus today. Social reform is mired in different opinions, and the state leaders are haunted by low support rates. Campaign strategy and election results weigh far more importantly than serious policy research.

Chinese society is sincere in learning the essence of democracy. But the problems embedded in the system are apparent. A few diehard Chinese followers of the system refuse to admit them, even against rational discussion of these problems. Democracy is not to be worshipped.

Meanwhile, collectiveness and cultural unity are vital to political efficiency in a country like China. Those are treasures that should not be denied easily.

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