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Older people aren't just worried about fairness, and are far less concerned about opportunity (that was in the past!) as they are about their personal security, which goes beyond their health care and pension payments. By older people I mean retirees, those portions of the French electorate (in fact the only one if memory served) who voted majoritarily for Sarkozy in 2007. They are also worried about social cohesion, expressed in terms of defence of values sometimes, other times expressed in terms of identity politics (French versus immigrants, et c.)

But are these priorities due to them being old or due to them being of the particular generation that they are? That is, will all people, on average, tend to adopt these priorities as they age, in which case a greater share of elderly people must be accounted for in terms of political strategy. Or is the fact that the elderly have these priorities an accident of history, which would imply that long-term strategy should be centered around meeting the priorities of the next generation of the electorate (since the present generation of elderly, not to put too fine a point upon it, won't be around to vote in the long run).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 12th, 2011 at 06:17:07 AM EST
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Its mostly a matter of generation, methinks. French people over 65 have grown up in the 40s and 50s with the Iron Curtain, Cold war, nuclear threat and also all the French colonial wars (Vietnam, Algeria) where the pigmented people are somehow menacing and not quite "French".

In their days, there was (mostly) no ethnic diversity in France; the economy was safely within the nation's border where everybody spoke French. 21st century world is a much scary place for this generation and tough guy macho rhetoric has had some success as seen with Sarko's electoral numbers in 2007.

The generation coming behind (that would be mine) is different: ex-colonies were all independent when I grew up, globalization was well underway even in the 70s and you have to be fluent in English to go anywhere (damn useful to communicate with all kind of people too). This generation is much, much less receptive to the traditional (and xenophobic/racist) right wing discourse.

by Bernard (bernard) on Wed Jan 12th, 2011 at 05:13:14 PM EST
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