Ségolène Royal, the socialist opposition leader who led the party to the polls against Sarkozy last year and lost, has appeared on stage in what looks like a one-man stand-up comedy show. Has American style speech making finally arrived in France?
Royal's new style, which made its debut at the Zenith auditorium in Paris on Saturday, has left webusers flabbergasted. She appears to have been completely transformed, right down to her choice of clothes and her body language. Her exaggerated gestures and relaxed approach have left some wondering if she hasn't gone a step too far...
"A politician would never make a speech in an auditorium that big in New York dressed like she was"
Samuel Sadden is a lawyer from Sioux City, US. He studied in France and continues to follow the political scene in France. He's a Democrat sympathiser.
The only thing American about the speech was the slogan "la fraternité à son Zénith" ("at the zenith of fraternity"). That sounds like something from the American campaign. Apart from that, nothing. Her speech is a caricature.
In the US, politicians sometimes do dress casually, they even wear jeans. But that's when they visit small towns or go to meet farmers. A politician would never make a speech in an auditorium that big in New York dressed like she was. People would think it a scandal.
Also, the references Royal makes are French. She talks about Coluche, Cyrano de Bergerac - very popular French themes. I think if the style of her speech was cut out, it'd be the same stuff underneath."
"It looks more like what Le Pen did"
Bertrand Simon is a specialist in political communication. He teaches at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.What's really shocking about the speech is that she has no stand or pulpit in front of her, which is very rarely done, even in the US. John Kerry sometimes did speeches in the centre of a group, but that was in villages, not a big room like the Zenith. He looked more like a teacher than a stand-up comedian.
And that's really the style that she's adopted - a one man show. For me it's not American, it looks more like what Le Pen [leader of the far right party] did. He also spoke without a pulpit, punctuating his speech with a bit of wit here and there; playing with the audience. He's the only one to have used that style.
If we have to find an American inspiration for what Royal's done, it's more likely she got it from celebrity pastors than politicians."
"I was really impressed!"
Stuart Haugen is the vice-chair of Republicans Abroad France.I was really impressed! I can't stand Royal, and yet I found her a very likeable individual doing this speech. You can see she's gone out and hired someone to spend a lot of time teaching her how to present on stage. And I'd be almost shocked if that person isn't American. I think that French people are ready for a change. There's no reason they should move in a different direction than America, although it is a tragedy that you have to be good on stage to win now. That could cause John McCain to lose...
I do have a few criticisms. She's not totally professional. She needs to let them chuckle after a laugh line. Her fashion of dressing is strange. She's obviously looking for an elegant casual look. She hasn't found it yet. That silk tunic was probably extremely expensive, but it sends out a different message from the jeans. And her body language is a little repetitive. But I was still very impressed!
Royal's style is most like Mick Huckabee's. She's not like Clinton - Clinton is a man on stage - not one element of femininity in Clinton. Palin on the other hand is very much a woman. She has a clear and solid image of the naughty librarian. She wears skirts. And I think that's right for Royal too. She needs to find a way to play on her attractiveness, to be a full blooded woman. This is hot stuff, and it's going to sell in France."