The recent revealing photos of Francois Hollande's evening escapade together with the sudden hospitalization of the erstwhile (?) partner/First Lady Val￩rie Trierweiler raise most interesting questions. Specifically, together with the blowback from the Snowden/NSA revelations we are obviously entering a new era of defining the private/public domains. While we all appreciate how technology has brought the world closer together, the invasion of privacy issue can no longer be ignored. We certainly like to communicate, but we are getting worried that most if not all of our private communications have entered the public domain.
Hollande's January 14 press conference was riveting.
Thirty-seven French Ministers have officially published their individual worth following a directive from President Francois Holland. The discovery that some were wealthy was not surprising; Laurent Fabius headed the list with 6 million Euros. What was surprising was the reaction here in Geneva.
According to the Tribune de Genève of April 16, a cross-section of local elected officials rejected or voiced skepticism regarding greater transparency. The reactions varied from doubts about the real value of certain declarations to a robust rejection of making public what in Switzerland has always been considered the private sphere. The head of the Radical group in Parliament is quoted as saying, “What will have to become public after the net worth? A health report or sexual orientation?” The Mayor of Geneva, Rémy Pagani is quoted as bluntly saying that the demand for greater transparency from public officials is “a radical intrusion into the private sphere. For me, political considerations stop at the entrance to my door.”
Two recent tragic events highlight the error in jumping to conclusions until all the facts are well known. The shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida appeared to be a simple case where a white vigilante shot and killed a black youth prowling an upscale neighborhood. Even President Obama declared that if he had had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon. In the second case, Mohammad Merah, dubbed an Al Qaeda fanatic, murdered seven people including 4 Jews in Toulouse and was finally gunned down after a 32 hour siege with hundreds of police. President Sarkozy condemned the killer promising to pass stricter laws against terrorists and religious fanatics. Both President Obama and President Sarkozy, it should be noted, are in the midst of election campaigns.
Russians elect a president; French presidential campaign in full swing; Republican primaries peak on Super Tuesday March 6. Even Geneva is getting into the act replacing Conseil d'Etat Mark Muller. We are in the season of electoral fever.
What is so exciting about campaigns and elections? There is something dramatic, even athletic about the whole process. Pierre Maudet throws his hat in the ring! Mitt Romney tries to score a knockout on Super Tuesday! The vocabulary of a boxing match is often used to describe the ebb and flow of campaigns. Interviews are brutal, the participants battered. We watch the candidates' feints and jabs. Polling technology can measure crowd reactions to debates second by second much the way judges score boxing matches blow by blow.