Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gay President Delanoë?

It's a great thought about the mainstreaming of diversity, isn't it? Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë has signalled he's likely to run for the leadership of the French Socialist Party at the end of the year - if he were to win, putting him on a collision course with the hugely unpopular Nicolas Sarkozy at the next presidential election in 2012. This would be routine but for one important factor: Delanoë is gay. It's not unknown for the leaders of major cities to be gay - Klaus Wowereit in Berlin and Mayor-elect Sam Adams in Portland, Oregon are current notable fellows, but none has so far made an attempt to make the transition to the national stage.

So far Delanoë has travelled on the same path which took Boris Johnson to the top in London - that in this day and age, if you offer a certain level of professionalism, straightforwardness and accountability voters are indifferent to your background. There are hints in the UK that that trend will successfully convert to national politics, but despite currently favourable opinion polls, it remains to be seen if the same is true in France. We can but hope - Royal ran a spectacularly unfocused campaign last year against a man widely known to be a monster (who proved to be as well). France needs more competent and likable alternatives.

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