France's Liberal Sexuality Extends to Its Presidency

While in American and the UK, having a picturesque family life is considered practically essential for holding the highest office, it confers no political gain on French politicians. 

What's the Latest Development?

Whichever of the two likely candidates wins France's presidential election, already underway, the familial situation inside the presidential palace will be complicated, not that the electorate is paying much attention to that. Incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy has children from three different women. His challenger, Socialist Party candidate Francoise Hollande, has a new partner and four kids with a former presidential candidate, though the two never wed. Still, given the political culture in France, neither candidate considers his parental status to be a campaign issue. 

What's the Big Idea?

The French newspaper Le Temps compares its country's political culture to Britain where "marriage and the picture of a united and happy family are prerequisites for political success" and says that such political partnerships are unthinkable in America where "where marital hypocrisy is established as a system". It seems that in the French view of things, politicians are allowed to have personal faults just like the rest of us, and that private behavior is judged apart from policy decisions. What do you think accounts for America's obsession with its politicians' private lives? 

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