Deciphering France…

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.

 

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