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Socialists' election to lose?

[ 2011-01-18 17:08]     字号 [] [] []  
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Socialists' election to lose?

Reader question:

Please explain “Socialists’ election to lose” in the following passage:

DUMPED in Britain, rejected in Germany, booted out in Sweden and the Netherlands, the left is in decline across Europe. Among the big economies, only Spain is run by Socialists, and even there they are in trouble. The one country where the left ought to stand a good chance of breaking this trend is France, which holds a presidential election in 2012. With Nicolas Sarkozy deeply unpopular and the right having occupied the presidency since 1995, it is the Socialists’ election to lose. But the party has an uncanny talent for blowing its chances by picking the wrong candidate (The man who would be president, Economist.com, January 6, 2011).

My comments:

It means the Socialists are favored to win the next French election.

In fact, the Socialists are so heavily favored that analysts believe the Socialists will win it, unless they self-destruct – do something really stupid and ruin their own chances in the next months.

Such as picking the wrong candidate (as mentioned in the article), who will find himself involved in, say, a Silvio Berlusconi-style sex scandal or do something else so terrible that completely makes him unelectable.

Sorry, I’m afraid I’ve picked a poor example. Berlusconi, you see, is Italian and he is rich. Filthy rich, in fact as the current Italian Prime Minister is one of the richest men in the world. We can’t realistically expect the Socialist leader from France to be as rich as Berlusconi, or as filthy. But then, realistically, I don’t think the French should expect too much from their Socialist leader, either. Once elected, leaders in the so-called democratic countries are more or less the same – they’re merely politicians, and in this day and age at any rate, politicians the world over are much more capitalistic than socialistic.

Anyways, the question of our concern here and now is “the Socialists’ to lose”. Socialists’ being a possessive pronoun suggests that this is as if to say the election is already theirs. But the emphasis at the end of the phrase “to lose” must not be ignored either – that means the election is not theirs to keep (only after the election and they win it, will it be theirs to keep) but to lose.

In other words, they may not win it, after all.

To sum up, the full meaning of the idiom “it’s yours to keep” is this: you’ll very probably have it, unless you do something (really stupid) to lose it – or something (calamitous) just happens to take it away from you.

Similarly, it’s his/her/my/ours/yours/theirs to lose as well.

Here are more media examples.

1. Conventional wisdom seems to hold that Crystal Bowersox — the dreadlocked dynamo who has more or less dominated the ninth season of “American Idol” since day one — is the clear-cut front-runner and that the competition is hers to lose at this point.

Based on talent alone, you’d be hard-pressed to find many who would disagree with that assessment. But no matter how many times Simon Cowell repeats it, we all know that “Idol” isn’t merely “a singing competition.” More often than not, it’s the intangibles — stuff like likability, marketability and, uh, hunk-ability — that actually determine the winner of this thing.

For that reason alone, it’s entirely possible that Bowersox might not win “American Idol” this season. Or, at least, that’s what those who know the show best are telling us.

“She should win, but she might not,” said MJ Santilli, who operates “Idol” site MJsBigBlog.com. “She’s been the front-runner for a while now, and usually, the front-runners tend to fade away. ... Plus, she’s hardly the traditional ‘front-runner.’ It's not an open-and-shut case.”

“She’s been the front-runner almost since the beginning of the season; it's just that the problem with ‘Idol’ is that it’s not a show where you can vote people off. You vote for who you want to stay,” said Maura Johnston, who covers “Idol” for Fancast.com, added. “So it will come down to fans who are passionate, and since everyone assumes Crystal is the best, it will mean people might not vote for her, since there’s a sense that the five other contestants are fighting for votes.”

- Can Crystal Bowersox Lose 'American Idol'? MTV.com, April 27, 2010.

2. John Hartson believes Neil Lennon’s managerial inexperience should not be held against him when his suitability for the post of Celtic boss is assessed.

The Irishman was promoted from taking the reserves to interim manager last week following the departure of Tony Mowbray and Lennon’s chances of being given the job on a permanent basis were given an immediate boost with a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at Parkhead on Saturday.

Former Celtic striker Hartson told Press Association Sport: “Players can only get experience by playing and it’s the same with a manager. How is Neil going to get experience if he is not given a chance?”

He added: “I know people will say that it is a massive club but he knows the club, he played there for seven years and under two great managers.

“Mark Hughes took over the Welsh national team when he was 37. That was his first job.

“Look at what he has done since with Blackburn and Manchester City and he is quite sought after. So at the end of the day, the only way you get experience is by being given the chance.”

Hartson, who continues his recovery from cancer, believes that Lennon is in pole position for the job.

I think it’s Neil’s job to lose now,” he said. “It didn’t work out for Tony although I thought it was a match made in heaven, I thought he was perfect for the job.

“Not to be challenging at this stage and to have gone out of the League Cup and to have gone out of Europe so early, I’m sure Tony half expected the call when it came.

“You can’t afford to lose that many games. But if a manager comes in and settles things down and starts winning big football matches and trophies then it is his to lose.”

- Hartson backs Lennon for Celtic job, MirrorFootball.co.uk, January 4, 2010.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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