As was the case in 2007 for the previous French presidential elections, the Finnish media has been interested in France this spring. Interest was even stronger than in 2007: a new French president, Francois Hollande, arrived from the Socialist Left right in the middle of a European crisis of which Finland is not entirely out of reach.
Normally the Finnish media (at least in my experience) relate to anything linked to French political developments with a polite lack of interest. This time around, the mood is considerably more concerned than before, and this distance has been replaced with a sudden need for news bits and comments. At its worse, the Finnish public debate sees the European crisis through a German lens, and France as an odd, annoyingly distressing problem-child – the recent surge of activity involving France, however, has brought an eye on Paris. Fair enough.
But for many Finnish journalists, there is a problem with language. Journalists able to speak and understand French are only a handful, including Yle’s correspondent in Paris Raine Tiessalo (his blog)or the legendary Helena Petäistö. But for most of Finnish journalists, there seems to be a genuine difficulty in using first-hand French sources.
A convenient way to go around that would be to check some English-language blogs.
The two ones I check daily are Arthur Goldhammer’s blog (http://artgoldhammer.blogspot.com/) and Arun Kapil’s blog (http://arunwithaview.wordpress.com/). Goldhammer is a Harvard-based translator and specialist of French literature and History. Arun Kapil is a Paris-based political scientist. Both have their own approach: Goldhammer is an economy buff, Kapil has long posts on movies, etc. But both have a deep understanding of French politics, worthy of consideration. Two good windows on French realities.