Party time – 400th blog post today! Sadly I’m full of flu so not inclined for a knees-up, but please have one on my behalf. Thanks to you all for following me. I had my best month ever in February 2012 with just under 4,000 hits and that’s brilliant!

Today’s title is a sort of slogan. I mentioned a few of the presidential candidates’ slogans recently and I’m returning to the theme. I discovered that Sarkozy’s La France Forte isn’t original. How shameful! In 1974 Valéry Giscard d’Estaing ran with Il faut une France forte (France must be strong). He won the election and at 48 years of age became France’s third youngest President. Sarkozy must be hoping that if it worked for VGd’E, it will work for him.

There are more echoes of previous slogans. François Hollande tells us this year that Le changement, c’est maintenant (Change is now). (He has been in touch for another €2 from me, by the way. This amount would allow him to get in contact another 200 people, presumably to touch them for €2 too! Cunning.) His former partner Ségolene Royale had Le changement as her catchphrase in the last elections in 2007. (Sarko went for Ensemble, tout devient possible (Together everything is possible). It was certainly possible for him to more than double his salary and spend upwards of 200 million euros on a Presidential plane, including €65,000 on special bread oven for it, that’s for sure.

La France forte hints at national security, but doesn’t actually say anything. It’s what they call langue du bois here – wooden language. It’s soothing but vacuous – politically correct. People can bring their own meaning to it. A slogan doesn’t make a campaign anyway. It’s TV and increasingly the Internet that play the important part in winning voters these days. Slogans and posters are simply part of the package, but not very effective. You can’t really judge slogans apart from deducing after the event  that the best one is the winner’s one.

It isn’t cheap running a presidential campaign. In 2007 Sarko and Royale spent over €20 million each. (That seems a lot, but pales into insignificance next to the €550 million Obama spent on his in 2008.) The ‘minor’ candidates who won less than 5% of the votes were given €800,000 towards their campaign costs, and the ‘major’ ones had reimbursements of €10 million each. Aren’t taxpayers wonderful things!

To finish a couple of firsts for today, 1st of March. Saw my first bee of the year and my first wasp, put on the first dollop of suncream when I was sitting outside reading the extremely enjoyable Perking The Pansies by Jack Scott on my Kindle, and today was the first day we didn’t have a fire going in the grate from the moment we got up until we went to bed. Only just lit it now. Yes, winter’s over.