A French citizen, Mohammed Merah, went on a killing spree. Starting in Montauban, he shot dead two soldiers. Then he went to a Jewish primary school in Toulouse. There he shot dead three children, including the headmaster's child. The headmaster gave in his resignation a few days later.
Merah was then trapped in his apartment by the police force and he didn't survive the siege.
The electoral candidates put their campaigns on hold in order to pay respect to those whose lives were lost. However, they also quickly took advantage of the opportunity and scandalously used the killings to bolster their arguments during the campaign.
The French election system is very different to the Australian one; all French citizens vote for the president. The first round eliminates all but two candidates. The second round is decisive with the winner set to govern France for five years.
The winner also chooses his own cabinet ministers who will be in charge of portfolios which include education, health, environment and so on. These ministers are the ones who propose new laws and policies to the French assembly of deputies.
At a local level, other elections will be organised later this year to decide our representation in this Assembly. This system has been effective since the end of World War II when General Charles De Gaulle was made president.
It raises some serious questions:
â€¢ Are politics really handled in a democratic way?
â€¢ Has it more to do with the personality of one man than with the best policies?
â€¢ Is it a party we are choosing or an individual?
These issues have been debated time and time again for the past fifty years.
This week they came to a head again when Raymond Aubrac passed away. He was one to stand against this system. Probably the greatest figure of the French Resistance, he worked with his wife alongside De Gaulle to liberate France.
When it concerned the choice of a president, his views was different to that of his wife. When she passed away in 2007, Jacques Chirac the then-president, made a speech to honour her memory. Raymond on the other hand was very clear in his last wishes: he did not want current president Nicolas Sarkozy speaking at his funeral.
More than one issue
In the light of the recent events, it seems like the French presidential election has been carried off by the media coverage of current affairs: some crazy young lost soul decides to go on a rampage and suddenly, the major economic issues France has experienced are swept under the carpet and the candidates only focus on racism.
Obviously, this is an important matter, but it is not the only one.
White, black, Jewish, Muslim or Catholicâ€"not one community has been spared by the global financial crisis.
It is therefore a real shame our politicians have decided to turn a blind eye to a climate concerning us all; they have clearly chosen what will make them look best, not will serve us best.
We can all choose for ourselves to see, just as Raymond Aubrac did, even in his death.
Matthew 15: 13-14 NIV
"Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit. "
Julia Baber is French and has mirated to Australia with her English husband. They have one litle son. Julia serves "The means to the way" an association encouraging French – Australian Cultural exchanges.
Julia Baber's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/julia-baber.html