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France’s Election by Default

PARIS – Rousseau versus Hobbes: on the cover of the French magazine Philosophie, the two leading contenders in France’s upcoming presidential election, the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist candidate François Hollande, are dressed up accordingly. “The real presidential contest” according to the magazine, pits the consensual and contractual vision of Rousseau (Hollande) against the violent “every man is a wolf to his fellow man” vision of Hobbes (Sarkozy).

Philospophie’s take on the French presidential election may contain some truth, but reality is far more prosaic – and far less intellectual. To understand the complexities of the race and Sarkozy’s recent (but still relative) surge, sports might be a better reference point than philosophy.