The 'voting panel' commenting on the French election are part of the media hype of the contest, however they and the levels of registration indicate a high degree of engagement with the campaign and its issues. Take Muriel Calvez, a 19 year old student; she finds none of the candidates programmes map completely on to her vision of an ideal President, shame but her level of knowledge about the candidates and her ability to articulate reasons for not supporting the vast majority demonstrate a real interest in the campaign. So perhaps the levels of choice and belief that the contest matters for the future of French politics has encouraged more to take notice of the campaign and get involved. OK these are the voters panel, they should be more engaged shouldn't they?
The UK panel, from the 2005 election seemed to talk more about the issues not being addressed, or the parties being too similar on the major issues; so not offering a choice. Muriel's counterpart Paul Holdsworth complained of the lack of a 'World Poverty Day'; his overview of the campaign was "Too few issues of any importance were discussed and too much effort was placed on dull, stale issues which failed to resonate with much of the electorate". The contrast with the French election is stark, issues are central to the panelists' remarks and there seems no shortage of information. Yes, something is wrong with UK elections; is this a surprise?
Voters appear to feel the UK 2005 election campaign to lack saliency, relevance to their lives. Any marketer will tell you that to get people involved then they need to feel they have a reason to listen in the first place. Not to say all voters do not listen at all, but the arguments suggest that when the lsiten they hear nothing of value so have difficulties making an informed choice; the French seem to have information overload. At the last election research showed that Labour were closest to the public in their prioritisation of issues, but were still not completely in sync; this does not the seem the case in France even if the 'offerings' lack appeal to everyone the voters seem to understand the nature of each of the candidates political stance (perhaps vive la difference is not appropriate here)!