The French political establishment will be choking on their brioche this morning. Not only will the next presidential election likely be a contest between a woman and the son of an immigrant, but the masses find the female candidate to be as attractive physically as she is politically. A poll in the French edition of FHM places Socialist Ségolène Royal as the sixth sexiest women in the world. The Daily Telegraph reports that the "52-year-old mother of four" beat out Penelope Cruz and Jennifer Lopez.
Royal's success is evidence of the buzz surrounding her possible candidacy, and it is only going to get louder. I was chatting to a Paris-based journalist last week and there is real excitement about how fun it would be to cover a "Sego" v. "Sarko" race—it is the match-up the media crave. The polls show that it's also the contest the public wants. But, as The Economist notes, in the history of the Fifth Republic, no poll has correctly predicted the final two candidates a year out.
All the signs, though, suggest that France is at long last ready for real change, perhaps validating the thesis that the rejection of modest labor liberalization earlier this year was, counter-intuitively, good for the reformist cause. 2007 is shaping up to be a vintage year for French politics.