Last Sunday the French elected their new president. I was not eligible to vote but I was observing how the whole process was done. Conclusion: it is a democracy process that I envy in which I wish Malaysia could do the same one day.
1. Equal media exposure time for each candidate
During the first round, 10 candidates presented themselves and each of them was supposed to have the equal media exposure time. I felt that this rule was respected rigorously. Proves:
1. I saw Ms Eva Joly (candidate from the Ecology party) on TV as much as Marine Le Pen (candidate from the Front National), and I was surprised that Ms Joly got merely 2% of the votes compared to Ms Le Pen's 18%.
2. The candidates advertised on the TV: the incumbent president had the same time slot as the communist candidate (didn't know communist still exist in democratic country).
3. Around a week before the election, hubby received a letter which marked with "Urgent election", with 10 brochures inside: one brochure per candidate. The same during the second round: 2 brochures, one for Sarkozy, one for Hollande.
In Malaysia, it seems that the richest candidates get the highest exposures. I'm not sure a candidate who could only win 2% can afford to advertise on the TV.
2. Live debate
What a great debate they had during the second round Hollande vs Sarkozy. Both spoke eloquently and I was glued to the TV the whole evening. I had seen the one in 2007 and the US presidential debate between George Bush and John Kerry. They all were able to bring out the politics they advocate within a short span of time, and you can read the rest in the website if you want details. This is rare in Asian countries I guess. Taiwan has it, not sure for Japan and Korea, but for the rest, I don't think so. But things are moving into the positive side in Malaysia. I heard live debates between Chinese politicians, but Malaysia does not elect their prime minister directly so we can only hope to have debate between leaders of the biggest political parties.
3. No election scandal
I have not heard of the French complaining that the election was unfair or was not conducted in the right way. There was no accusation such as phantom voters (dead people voting), eligible young voters were not able to vote because they were using old electoral roll (it happened to me). Basically, there was no doubt that the election system was fair and carried out correctly. Well, not the case in Malaysia.
1. Gay marriage and religious issues (eg abortion) were not important topics during the campaign. This is such a huge difference compared to the USA.
2. The French simply do not care about the President's private life. The Petit Journal was showing an American shows commenting about the election especially about the fact the new President cheated on his x-girlfriend when she was fighting against Sarkozy in 2007. And now that he is president, his new girlfriend becomes the First Lady, and they are not even married. The guest on the show said she hoped it would not happen in US. I think many French President would not qualify to White House in the US: the one who has a bastard daughter, the one who is gay...