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French Trots for Merkel, worshipping the remote control and other opinion poll oddities

To commemorate its 60th birthday, Paris Match has polled the Plain People of France on events marking the last 60 years, what they miss, what they hope for, who they have faith in etc etc. As ever, there is lots and lots of juicy demographic detail to pore over and then scratch one's head in shock.

Onwards.

A certain tall General rates as the stand out political leader of the era at 32%, followed by Nelson Mandela at 28%. Kennedy (yawn) is third at 15%. Our own Lady Thatcher takes a 3% share of voice, quite impressive really. Thatcher gets stand out showings of 6% in the North West and rural areas, and rather alarmingly, 7% of Frontistes.

Asked who is best placed to face the challenges ahead, Obama (72%) leads from Sarkozy (12%) and Merkel (9%). The soi-disant saviour of the world (that's our PM) is not offered as an option, although Chavez and Lula are. The blameless, if somewhat dull Frau Merkel outperforms her overall rating among old school Trots (14%) and new wave Trots (11%), which is just downright odd. Obama leads in all demographics, even Frontistes. Lula is second for the liberal professions etc, which is also curious.

9/11 rates as the biggest event of the last 60 years (38%), ahead of the fall of the Wall (19%), and as ever with these polls, there is always a proportion which cannot remember anything much beyond last week, so the recession rates joint third at 12%, along with May '68. Further, one in 20 think that the French World Cup win was the big event. Sigh. Mind you, we would probably have similar figures for '66. Of the choices offered, I would have gone for the fall of the Wall, and among the most sensible demographics are 35-49 year olds (26%) and Greens (boo, hiss) at 31%. Communists think May '68 was the biggest event, which is frankly laughable. Mind you, 18% of PCF voters think winning the World Cup was the big story, more important than the Algerian war or the 2008/9 crash. Not one of them thought the fall of the Wall was the stand out, but I suppose one should not intrude overmuch in private grief.

As to scientific advances, the internet is reckoned the stand out (26%), followed by cancer research (23%) and the discovery of DNA (22%). Showing a greater sense of history than their elders, 12% of 18-24 opted for space exploration compared to an average of 8%.

Elsewhere, 1% of French men think the remote control is the technological breakthrough of the period, although the computer (34%) leads among the chaps. Women opt for the pill (45%). Oddities include 7% of Communists opting for the microwave, where overall only 2% did and 4% of old school Trots nominating MP3 players. Good grief...

And what do they miss? Paying in Francs - the leader at 33%. There is a massive gender disconnect on this one - 23% of men and 43% of women. I can't recall any women on French bank notes, for what that's worth. Old school Trots and Frontistes miss it the most at 48%. 27% of Parisians miss unprotected sex, compared to the average of 17% and 9% of South Westerners.

L’Abbé Pierre (a now deceased doer of good works) is their most admired personage at 51% followed by the Dalai Lama at 21%, JFK at 13%, Zinedine Zidane at 8%, and - as God is my witness, I am NOT making this up - Princess Diana (or 'Lardy Dee' as she is referred to trans-Channel) at 7%. Note that she was the choice of 12% of women but only 2% of men. The disconnect over Zidane is not quite so stark - 5%/11%. The one time Queen of Hearts has a particular appeal to Communists, old school Trots and Frontistes at 15%. ZZ is second only to L’Abbé Pierre among Frontistes at 23% to 36%.

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