By Marissa Mooers | IDS
French politics is where it's at,
my friends. Forget "E! News"
and "US Weekly".
It seems that every day there is another scandal,
some high-ranking political figure has had
the skeletons in his or her closet
exposed once more and the media is all a clamor.
What high-ranking politician admits to sleeping
with underage male prostitutes?
(Culture minister Frederic Mitterand)
Which government official falsified bank documents
to get back at his bitter rival?
(Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin)
And what former president is facing trial
against charges of corruption, breach of trust
and misuse of public funds?
Recently, President Nicolas Sarkozy decided
to shake things up, making news with
his announcement of the creation of
a new ministry of immigration and national identity.
Not the news you were expecting?
Me neither. But it seems that was exactly
the point. Look closer – things aren't always
what they seem, especially when it comes to politics.
During Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign,
he brought attention to the issue of defining
what it means to be French today.
The issue has been brought to the forefront
once more as congress prepares
to debate the issue during the next three months.
As globalization is an increasingly popular trend
in modern times, the diversity this brings can be
an asset in many ways. However,
it can also threaten a nation's distinctive identity.
France is having a bit of an identity crisis,
or so they say, and politicians are trying
to sort out what is at the core of France nationalism.
However, beneath the veneer of this seemingly
patriotic initiative, it seems that the heart
of the issue is more about
personal agendas than nationalistic preservation.
As the 2010 presidential campaign draws closer,
Sarkozy is attempting to steer attention away
from recent scandals and focus
on what is good for the country – or is he?
Even members of Sarkozy's own party have
criticized his efforts, saying that this effort
to protect national identity is really
about the president securing right-wing supporters.
Other critics maintain that the debate of
France's identity is a ploy to distract the public
from the more gruesome stories
that have been frequenting the news in France.
Recently, Sarkozy has been involved
in several dealings that have
weakened his public support.
And so the debate is heating up. What does it
mean to be French today?
How does a country with so many
immigrants maintain its culture
without being xenophobic?
It is certainly a worthwhile point
to consider, but it seems as
though politics are getting in the way once more.
When Britney Spears had an identity crisis,
she shaved her head.
When France has an identity crisis,
Sarkozy tries to leverage the situation
for his own political gain,
and the issue at hand is becoming diluted.
I propose that French politics take a page
from Ms. Spears' book.
What I mean is, let's get back to the basics.
Instead of getting caught up in power plays
and clashing egos,
maybe France would be better off with
a fresh start and with leaders
whose intentions are to help France,
rather than help themselves.
Sent from Kigali, Rwanda