Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Ben and Jerry's getting out the vote

The French vote that is...

As I was riding my bike to work this morning I saw a Ben and Jerry's ad using the upcoming elections. I didn't get a good enough look at the poster, but will try to take a picture of it on my way home.

It got me thinking about how Ben and Jerry's used to be a smallscale, grassroots type of operation and now they have an international market, bought out by the big guys at Univelever and are using the French vote as a marketing device. All just seems really weird, you know? Granted, I'm happy to finally be able to find cookie dough ice cream in France...

So, back to the vote. Yes, I will be voting. I got my carte electorale in the mail a couple weeks ago. I'm really excited to go to the polls for the second time in my life. I've had absentee ballots my entire legal life, except in 2000 when I happened to be living at my parents' for a couple months and it was election time.

Everyone's been asking me who I'm voting for. It's an easy answer for me because I don't quite grasp the whole "two round" system. As Jérôme explains to me, in the first round you vote for who you'd ideally like and in the second round, the person you feel obliged to vote for. In the second round, many of the lesser candidates band together and pass their supporters onto another candidate (example : the Green party will likely endorse the Socialists so they get a higher number of votes). But all of this seems futile to me.

I plan on getting Sarkozy out of there as definitively as possible. It's his fault that I've had to spend many nights waiting in line to get my carte de séjour. I don't want my vote not to count.

Look at what happened in 2001. The vote was so splintered in the first round because no one liked the big candidates. And that's why Le Pen got into the second round and my husband and other longterm liberals had to suffer in silence as they cast their ballots for Chirac. It physically pained my in-laws, ex-Communist party members, to have to vote for Chirac.

I like that there are many parties in French politics. In the US, it all comes down to the Democrats or the Republicans, but the other parties are much more visible and verbal here. It's not simply bipartisan. Yet, I don't want my first French ballot to be cast in vain. I'm too scared that my vote won't count. Maybe as I become a seasoned French citizen my opinion will change. But for now, I'm much too American to cast my ballot for the little guy.

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