Let’s take a break for a bit of mild amusement. My friend Arun has translated the questionnaire below, designed to see which French political party you should vote for, into English. As he notes:
[T]his is a multiple choice questionnaire developed six or seven years ago by former students at Sciences Po, to determine where one is situated on the French political spectrum. There are questions on twelve key issues, with some of the choices complex and only slight nuances of difference between them, so as to identify precisely which political party or current within a party—of a list of some 25—most closely articulates one’s views (and with a runner-up). So the algorithm is sophisticated. N.B. It does not speak to how one may actually vote, just which parties one is politically closest to. The test’s satisfaction level has been very high (see ‘Les taux de satisfaction’ tab), particularly for those supporting the major parties of government.
Here are the rules. You’re on the honor system:
Don’t click on Arun’s site until you’ve taken the test (so you don’t prejudice yourself), and — although his comments are very interesting — don’t write anything about what he says until tomorrow, after everyone’s had the chance to take the test and come up with their own thoughts about what they think their score might mean.
Take the test before reading anyone else’s comments and before seeing how everyone else did.
Answer the questions, as much as possible, based on your own political principles, instead of trying to second-guess what you might think if you were French.
Be honest about your results, even if they surprise you. It’s fine — encouraged, even — to speculate about why they were or weren’t what you expected, but again, take the test before reading everyone else’s results and before reading their thoughts about why they scored the way they did!
Were you surprised? If so, why? Why do you think you scored the way you expected to, or why do you think you came up with a surprising result?
I’ll tell you my results, why I think I got them, and what I think that means, tomorrow.
Here’s the translation from Arun’s website. (Remember, take the test first before clicking on that link. Ideally, don’t look at his site at all until after you’ve reported your results and speculated about why you scored the way you did — it’s not apt to influence you hugely, but it may prejudice you a bit. And we’ll talk about his hypotheses tomorrow, not today.) Some of the questions may have more than one answer that seems right to you; just pick the statement with which you most strongly agree.
TAXES (1 /12)
1. There should be a tax cut for everyone when government has the means to do so and a tax increase for everyone when this is necessary.
2. There should be an across-the-board tax cut to enable business and individuals to invest more money in the economy and in order to create more jobs.
3. There should be a tax cut for lower-income persons and a tax increase for the rich or on business, in the interest of social solidarity and to finance public services.
GLOBALIZATION (2 / 12)
1. Globalization should be regulated. International institutions (or even national governments) should impose rules to better protect the rights of working people, the environment, and sensitive sectors of the economies of each country (for example, agriculture or culture).
2. All customs barriers should be abolished, as well as subsidies and national regulations that distort competition, so that competition between firms throughout the world may take place in all areas and without impediment. It is by these means that optimal economic efficiency will be realized and which will be in the interest of all.
3. Globalization can be an opportunity. It enables firms to find new markets. Jobs that are lost due to outsourcing and plant closings are generally compensated for by those that are created elsewhere in the economy, which are higher skilled and raise living standards. But government should help those who lose out due to globalization.
4. Globalization of the economy aggravates the exploitation and pollution of poor countries, and brings about outsourcing and plant closings that destroy jobs in rich countries. International institutions that are truly democratic should protect the rights of people (and not multinationals). The profits of business that are generated by globalization should be taxed in order to help poor countries develop.
5. Globalization is an opportunity, as the opening up of borders gives firms access to new markets and which enables them to create jobs. “Barriers” that prevent goods and services from circulating freely should thus be brought down. But in order for national firms to fully benefit from this, they should be freed to the utmost from regulatory constraints that place them at a disadvantage vis-à-vis foreign competitors.
POVERTY AND EXCLUSION (3 / 12)
1. Rather than having people depend too much on public assistance (or in tempting them to profit from the system) they should be made responsible [for their own fate], so they will depend more on themselves and less on government in order to get out of the situation they find themselves in.
2. Government should come to the aid of the poorest members of society, though they should not become too dependent on government.
3. Government should do what is necessary so that each person receives what he or she needs to live decently.
PUBLIC SERVICES AND THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT (4 / 12)
1. Government should focus its efforts on the principal missions of public service and share other missions with the private sector (such as health insurance, postal service, universities…), in order to lower their cost and increase efficiency.
2. Public sector employment should be increased and with much more money allocated to public services, so that each user, whatever his or her means, has access to quality public services (health, education, culture, water, energy, communication, public transportation…). Public services have a social mission and must not seek to make a profit.
3. All public services have a social mission—not to leave anyone by the wayside—that private enterprise cannot assume. They should have sufficient means to serve the public, but government should also seek to make them more efficient.
4. To ensure their mission but without representing too heavy a burden for government, public services should become both more efficient and less costly. Some of them (the postal service or rail transport, for example) can be made to compete with private firms and even be partially privatized (though where government maintains majority control), which will motivate public services to improve.
5. Government should focus only on its three veritable missions, which are the police, justice, and national defense. All the rest can be given over to the private sector, whose methods of management are much more efficient.
BUSINESS (5 / 12)
1. Laws benefiting working people (e.g. health care, pensions, collective bargaining, paid vacations and maternity leave) should be imposed on business, and indemnities paid to laid off employees by profitable companies should be increased.
2. Government should give business total freedom by doing away with the various taxes and regulations that impose handicaps on their development.
3. Priority should be given to aiding small business, by lowering their taxes and lessening regulations, and government should not interfere in labor-management relations.
4. The profits of companies should benefit employees before they do shareholders. Moreover, there should be a law that forbids mass layoffs by profitable companies, under penalty of being requisitioned by the state and to the benefit of the employees.
5. The tax burden on business should be lessened and regulations reduced, so that companies will create more jobs and be more competitive.
RELIGION (6 / 12)
1. Whether or not one is religiously observant, one must not neglect the moral values conveyed by religion.
2. One must tolerate all types of religious practices so long as they are freely consented to, even when they may be shocking to some.
3. Religious morality should be combated, as it prevents people from living and thinking freely.
4. Religion may sometimes be incompatible with personal freedom but it can, at the same time, offer answers to the profound questions of human existence.
5. The message of religion is primordial, as it helps us distinguish good from bad in our lives.
HOMOSEXUALITY (7 /12)
1. LGBT parenting should be recognized, with gay couples enjoying the same rights as heterosexual couples, and who should be able to openly live their homosexuality as they wish.
2. Homosexuality is dangerous for society. Anything that encourages it should be opposed.
3. The attitude of society toward gays needs to change so as to do away with discrimination that they may be subjected to, but gay marriage should not be authorized nor should gay couples be allowed to adopt children.
4. There should be total equality of rights for gays, who should be able to live normally, marry, and adopt and raise children.
5. If homosexuality in itself does not pose a problem, it may do so when it is openly displayed. The traditional couple—with a father and a mother raising children—should be defended.
ABORTION (8 / 12)
1. The right of abortion should be guaranteed but women should also be made aware that abortion is not a trivial act.
2. Women should be able to have abortions but only in cases of rape or if their health in is danger.
3. The right of women to freely have abortions must be defended.
4. Abortion should be illegal. To abort an unborn child is a crime.
DRUGS (9 / 12)
1. The legalization of cannabis would be a serious error. The use of all drugs must be opposed.
2. Soft drugs should be legalized. The consumption of hard drugs should be decriminalized.
3. Cannabis should be legalized, though, as with alcohol, it should be consumed only in moderation.
4. The issue of drugs is complex; the viewpoints of specialists should be accorded particular consideration.
DELINQUENCY/CRIME (10 / 12)
1. Each person is responsible for his or her acts and has it within his or her power to decide not to engage in delinquency. To deter people from committing delinquent acts, the punishment they risk should be truly dissuasive (i.e. sufficiently severe).
2. Delinquency often develops in difficult contexts (unemployment, ghettos, family problems, difficulties in integrating into society…) but context does not explain everything. In order to effectively counter delinquency the right balance between dissuasive punishment and preventive measures (i.e. getting at the causes) should be sought.
3. Delinquency is above all the result of difficult contexts (unemployment, ghettos, family problems, difficulties in integrating into society…). In order to obtain lasting results in countering delinquency, tackling its causes should be given priority.
VOTING RIGHTS AND NATIONALITY (11 / 12)
1. All foreigners who have lived in France for a long time, regardless of where they come from, should have the right to vote at least in local elections. The acquisition of French citizenship should also be facilitated for them.
2. Only French citizens should have the right to vote, and, except in special cases, one cannot be French without having at least one French parent. The mere fact of having been born in France should not lead to the automatic acquisition of French citizenship.
3. Only French citizens should have the right to vote. All persons who were born in France and live here, whatever their origin, should have French citizenship.
4. All foreigners resident in France should have the right to vote, whatever their nationality.
5. Only French citizens should have the right to vote. The only immigrants who should be able to become French citizens are those who have demonstrated their attachment to France in making an effort to integrate, and who have applied for French citizenship on their own volition (and including children born in France to foreign non-naturalized parents).
IMMIGRATION (12 / 12)
1. Integration works when immigrants feel that they not only have rights but also responsibilities. It is also important to fight against illegal immigration.
2. Problems linked to immigration do not come from immigrants themselves but rather from the various contexts (economic, social, historic…) in which immigration occurs. The first order of business is to make sure the rights of immigrants are respected, whether the immigrants are legal or not.
3. To facilitate the integration of immigrants it is necessary to fight against unemployment—which hinders their integration—and to make sure that the rights of immigrants are respected in countering discrimination of which they may be victims.
4. In order for the integration of immigrants to succeed they must not suffer from discrimination but, at the same time, they should respect the values of the host country.
5. Some immigrants will always remain foreigners. They should therefore return to their home countries, for our good and for theirs.
OPTIONAL QUESTION — THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR YOU IN FEELING CLOSE TO A PARTY OR POLITICAL PERSONALITY IS SHARING THE SAME CONVICTIONS ON:
1. Economic issues.
2. Social and moral issues.
3. The idea one has of France, Europe, or the world.
4. None of these in particular.
OTHER ISSUES NOT MENTIONED IN THE PRECEDING LIST:
1. Defense of the environment, and particularly ending nuclear power.
2. Defense of rural life.
3. Defense of republican equality (i.e., refusing special treatment based on the specificities of regions or individuals, such as Corsica, homosexuals, those who practice such and such a religion, etc).
Have fun! I’ll refrain from weighing except in response to specific, factual questions, or problems of translation, until tomorrow — so that I don’t prejudice anyone’s answers or thoughts about their results.
And a bonus for those of you studying French, or interested in French politics …