Looking for the French Obama.
Barack Obama's victory has prompted a wave of soul-searching in France, a country proud of its egalitarian tradition but where racial minorities have yet to break through to the top ranks of politics and business.France's self-image as a home of ethnic equality previously suffered a shock when weeks of riots shook Paris's immigrant suburbs in late 2005. With the U.S. -- often criticized in Europe for a troubled history of race relations -- electing its first black president, some French politicians are questioning their own country's prejudices.
"The hierarchical structure of French politics means that there is no French Obama," says Vincent Tiberj, a researcher at the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po. France's big wave of immigration also came later than in the U.S. "In France, the drive for equality only started in the 1980s," he says."Looking for the French Barack Obama," was the headline of a two-part investigation recently by French newspaper Le Monde. "This morning we all want to be Americans and capture a piece of the American dream," Senegalese-born Rama Yade, French secretary of state for human rights, said in a Wednesday interview with French radio.A sense of envy at America's electoral feat is being felt across Europe, where no nation has elevated a racial minority to its highest office.