Friday, June 29, 2012

What would your political party be in France?

Slavery is not OK if the majority vote to support it.
Image is public domain.
If you read the Wikipedia entry for French political parties, you discover that there are many parties representing a broad spectrum of viewpoints. The upside of this is that you avoid the tyranny of the majority, a problem in democracy where the majority can uphold terrible laws that ignore the interests of the minority. Consider the case of slavery in the US. Does the fact that it was supported by a democracy make it OK? Of course not.

By contrast, in France and many other countries, the tyranny of the majority is avoided because your vote might actually matter (this is part of the reason why the US has such low voter turnouts), as opposed to the US where, for example, Green Party supporters don't have many options. Of course, there's a downside to this, too. When you actually have a democracy, people often vote for groups you don't like. Sometimes it's pretty awful, but that's the price you pay for a real democracy: people with different voices have a say in what's happening.

So what political party might you be aligned with in France? There's a Web site,, that has you answer a bunch of questions (some of which are very poorly worded) and it gives you a rough idea of where you might fall in the  French political spectrum. However, it's in French, so that's an issue if you don't speak the language. Fortunately, this blog entry has translated the test into English. You can pop back and forth between the French and English version to get an idea of where you stand.

The blog entry that translates the test into English has this interesting bit:
[One French] journalist asserted ... that there was no significant electoral force in American politics on the left side of the political spectrum such as it existed in France. Hearing this almost caused me to fall out of my chair. To equate the US Democratic party with the UDF betrayed an ignorance of the latter—a party with Christian Democratic roots, a moderately conservative sensibility, and mainly provincial bourgeois voting base—and of the former as well. There was, moreover, the implication here that mainstream American Democrats in France would gravitate toward the UDF—which, despite its claimed centrism, was marked in the public mind as moderate right—over the dominant party of the moderate left, the Socialists.
In other words, the author was arguing that many US Democrats in France would vote socialist and he was surprised when a journalist claimed there was no significant electoral force in American politics on the left side of the political spectrum. But he should not have been surprised because, again, the difference here is between who you want to vote for and who you're allowed to vote for. In the US, you really have no choice. There's a right-wing and far right-wing party (relative to most major democracies). There is no "left" option that you can seriously vote for, despite the fact that one third of Americans view socialism favorably.

So go take the politest, using the English translations of the politest, and discover what democracy really means.


  1. I had to do some quick searches to find out what some of my matches were, such as Cap21. That was fun!

    And also a little depressing.

    1. I don't understand why Americans are so ungrateful. Given the horrors of one-party state, you'd think you'd revel in your 1.5 party state.

      (I told you I was going to steal that line)

    2. So many choices in the US! I can go for the refreshing deliciousness of Diet Coke, or the delicious refreshingness of caffeine free Diet Coke!

      I suppose I could have an RC, or maybe a glass of water. But who is seriously going to consider a glass of water? Let's be realistic here. We work with what's in stock at the store, same as everyone else.

      (This much sarcasm hurts. I'm going to stop now.)

  2. 2. Lutte ouvrière (LO)
    mais vous accordez moins d'importance au rôle de l'Etat dans le domaine économique et social.
    3. Europe Ecologie - les Verts (tendance 'radicale')
    mais, en règle générale, vous accordez plus d'importance au contexte dans lequel les gens évoluent (ou moins d'importance à leur responsabilité personnelle).
    4. le Parti de Gauche (PG), de Jean-Luc Mélenchon
    mais, en règle générale, vous accordez plus d'importance au contexte dans lequel les gens évoluent (ou moins d'importance à leur responsabilité personnelle).

    Those sound right enough I suppose, but I don't really know who the competition are. Also, there were a few of the questions where (a) it was a tough choice of what to focus on, or (b) I couldn't really see what the difference was. E.g., in question 7, what's the difference between answers 1 and 4? Also, regarding the comments about personal responsibility, I'm not sure if the answers came out "right". I'm a big proponent of people taking personal responsibility (I think the lack of doing so is one of the major problems in the US), but I'm too anthropologically educated to ignore the importance of context, especially when it comes to issues of crime and immigration; but, moreover, I've been tainted by the Republican corruption of what "personal responsibility" means in the mouth of a politician--- more often a code word for deregulation and letting big business do as they please rather than having anything to do with accepting responsibility, let alone on a personal level.

    1. Actually, keeping track of who the competition are would be hard. There are many political parties in France. And yes, some of the questions were maddeningly vague :)

  3. You take the left.

    parties whom you are closest (in order):
    1. Europe Ecologie - the Greens (trend 'radical')

    2. the Socialist Party (left wing of the Socialist Party)

    3. the Left Party (PG), Jean-Luc Melenchon

    4. the Communist Party (PCF)

    [sarcasm] I'm shocked!