Sunday, April 22, 2007

1st round of French elections: encouraging yet worrying

Nicolas Sarkozy,: 30.5% v. Segolene Royal: 25.7%. Two diametrically opposed visions of the world will clash in the second round of the French presidential elections.

I am encouraged that Sarkozy won what is probably the highest score for a "RPR now UMP"* candidate in the first round for the last 20 years. I am concerned about what Bayrou's supporters will do next with their votes, given that they didn't really think that through in the first round. Many socialists voted Bayrou believing he would have a better chance to beat Sarkozy in the second round...

Royal, since she has no program that any decent economist would support is building an "all but Sarkozy" coalition. I watched the live BBC 24 coverage of the elections and apparently, French people now understand that they need to change if they want to survive in the 21st century. Royal is positioning herself as the agent of "gentle change" as opposed to Sarkozy's more "brutal" methods.

Mathematically, if Sarkozy does not win Bayrou's voters, he will lose to Royal. Now imagine France as a car whose handbrake has been released, sliding slowly downhill towards a cliff. Voting Royal is like pressing the accelerator with both feet.

* Let's compare UK and French political parties: the UMP, which is "right wing" in France would be at the left of "New Labour". That's how liberal we are. Royal's supporters would be speaking standing on a box in Hyde Park corner.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

French elections: an analysis for French expatriates.

George Walden thinks that France is a "vegetating catastrophe". I agree that the country is in worst shape that it seems, especially when seen from outside. But there could be a glimmer of hope if the France that is prevented from working prevails over the France that holds on to its “avantages acquis”. Will it ever happens? French politicians know what to do to alleviate France’s ills, they just don’t know how to get re-elected after doing it. I followed the campaign through soundbites gleaned on the French and foreign press online so that makes me more qualified than the average voter to give you my political analysis on what’s on offer this week-end:

Not sure I understand what his program is about. I know he likes horses and wants a government of consensus with the left and the right. Not a recipe for change to me. But French people love that: more of the same. Likely to be in the second round. Out.

I knew many people like him when I was in high school. They spent their days sitting down in cafes, smoking cigarettes, wearing black turtle necks and talking about how great the communist revolution was. I guess most work for the French post office now. Out.

He has been consistent for a few decades: boot all immigrants outside France. 15% of French people are ready to vote for him. When I said the country was in worst shape than it seems… Out.

Made his political career out of smashing McDonald’s windows. Out.

Mainstream communist party. Out.

Famously said that CEOs of companies that made profits yet fired employees should be jailed. She is a “French Trotskyist communist politician”. There are not enough goulags in France for the program to work. Out.

Never heard of him before. Hunting party (people who like to kill other forms of life for fun). Out.

Another Trostkyist … Out.

The French revolution abolished the monarchy 218 years ago. Out.

Green candidate. Don’t know what her program is. Out.

She definitely campaigns for change: Turning the clock back to 1970’s style of French socialism with a bloated state, massive handouts, more taxes and protection from the “evils of liberalism”. Wrong analysis of the problems and wrong solutions. Since she is one of the top three candidates likely to go into the second round, it is fair to say that her election would probably be the worst thing that could happen to France. At least Bayrou would sit on his hands for five years… Out.

I have being contaminated by the evils of liberalism therefore only Sarkosy’s program seems to make some sense to me (and I stress “some”). Yet I don’t think France as a society is ready for it. Only 36 percent of French people think that “a free market economy” is the best system compared with 65 percent in Germany, 66 percent in Britain and 74 percent in China... Furthermore, Sarkosy may not be the liberal and change agent he proclaims to be and I doubt that he will be able to do much if elected without massive civil unrest. France has the candidates it deserves. Compare to the others, he is still the least worst so I would cast my vote for him.

Et voila, I did all the hard work for you so that you don’t have to think too much when voting this weekend. I’ll watch the results live with the French club at my school. I’ll comment on Monday.

Friday, April 20, 2007

MySpace takes on Google News and Digg

MySpace is going into the news business with a service that will scour the internet for news stories and let users vote on which ones receive the most exposure.

Via Times Online.

Weblin: surf the web together with your avatars

With weblin you can create avatars that can interact with others who are browsing the same webpage than you at the same time. Surfing the web together and chatting live about websites make for a richer experience than usual web surfing. I could see brands creating weblin avatars to engage people surfing their websites or websites who sell their products. The flipside: If I was enraged about a particular company, I could organise a protest with dozens of avatars and picket their homepage... the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Simplycity: online community for those who value simple, soap

Simplycity is a "community for those who value simple" (simple is a toiletry brand).

By answering regular polls (such as helping choose future packaging or a model for a poster campaign), registered users become "advisers" and earn points to spend on discounted products in an exclusive online boutique. There is a blog too and comments are enabled, albeit vetted by an editor.

The press release talks about "web 2.0" but the site lacks tools for users to actually express themselves or connect with each other. This means that the site is falling short of being a true community and viral growth will be driven by the availability of discounts more than anything else.

Nonetheless, it's a good step forward for a FMCG brand in engaging with consumers in co-creation. Why not push it slightly further and ask consumers to suggest packaging ideas of their own too?

Thank you Gaylene for the tip.

Watching the French elections in London?

Do you know a good pub/place to watch the French elections live in London this Sunday? The Fulham Tup is fully booked and the TV at the French House is broken...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

U.S. election campaign pros give French counterparts a lesson in spin

Cultural clash narrated by the International Herald Tribune. Our US spinmasters were shocked to hear of three communist candidates campaigning. They were very impressed by Sarkozy's website.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The thankfully stillborn bloggers' code of conduct

Following from Kathy Sierra's encounter with the "dark side" of the blogosphere, Tim O'Reilly (Web 2.0TM) proposed a "blogger’s code of conduct" which is getting a lot of media attention and a lot of flak from bloggers. I don’t have time to go at length as to why I think this is daft or even a dangerous idea as I am struggling to finish my MBA thesis (I shouldn’t be blogging but I could not resist on that one). I am pointing you instead to two bloggers who best encapsulate what I would have written: Tristan Louis who does a great job at explaining how unworkable this proposal is and Jeff Jarvis who shows the flipside of it.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Immigration: The human cost

Immigration: The Human Cost

The Onion News Network has set the standard for globe-encompassing 24-hour television news since it was founded in December, 1892. The network boasts channels in 171 languages and can be viewed in 4.2 billion households in 811 countries.

The Times: MBA Podcasts

Ten of the world's leading business thinkers provide the latest in economics, management, finance, strategy and marketing as 30-minute podcasts. Times Online MBA Podcasts.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Second Life Flooded

For a good cause: to highlight the potential devastating effect of climate change. Flood courtesy of Ogilvy for Adventure Ecology. They partnered with Anshe Chung who owns large amount of land and real estate on SL to make that possible. Brilliant idea. Via Giles Rhys Jones (see pictures on his blog).