Elections in France and the United States:The Same and So Very Different
In 2012, two very important and highly contested presidential elections are taking place in France (April 22) and the United States (November 6). Virtually the same issues are being debated in each country, and almost in the same manner. And in both countries, the president is the most powerful political figure. But there is one very great difference between the two: not ideology but the rules of the election. Different rules breed strikingly different electoral tactics.
In both countries, there are two major parties which have historically presented themselves as essentially center-right versus center-left. Observers of most political persuasions agree that the actual policies of the two parties, when in power, are not that different. Yet there do exist a few differences that each feels is crucial, and these differences motivate each group to pursue presidential elections ferociously.
In both countries, there exists what might be called an extreme right and a radical left. The extreme right and the radical left denounce the two “centrist” parties as tweedledum and tweedledee, and call for a political platform that is really right and really left. This plays out however in a quite different manner because of the very different electoral systems.