News

France Prepares for Final Round of Presidential Election

Supporters of France's president and candidate for re-election in 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy, wave French national flags, during a campaign meeting, in Toulon, southern France, May 3, 2012.
Supporters of France's president and candidate for re-election in 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy, wave French national flags, during a campaign meeting, in Toulon, southern France, May 3, 2012.

French voters go to the polls on Sunday to elect a president, with incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy fighting an uphill battle against the Socialist Party challenger, Francois Hollande.

In many ways, political experts say Sunday’s run-off election is a classic right-wing/left-wing showdown in French politics.

But Dominique Moisi, senior adviser to the French Institute of International Affairs in Paris, says there is another element in this presidential campaign - a clash of personalities.

“If you want to caricature that a little bit, it’s between a man who is perceived as too much - Nicolas Sarkozy - and a man who may be perceived as not enough - Francois Hollande,” said Moisi.

It is a battle, he adds, between “a man whose energy is remarkable, incredible [Sarkozy], but whose nervousness or political opportunism makes people uneasy.

“So there is a personal rejection of Nicolas Sarkozy that makes this election something unique,” Moisi concluded.

Nicolas Sarkozy
François Hollande
Nicolas Sarkozy

 

  • Elected President of France in 2007
  • Raised France's legal retirement age from 60 to 62
  • Born in 1955 and raised in Paris
  • Married to former supermodel Carla Bruni
  • Committed to balancing France's budget by 2016
François Hollande

 

  • Has never held national government office
  • Called for 75% tax on France's richest people
  • Wants to cut president's salary by 30%
  • Born 1954 in Roen
  • Not married; former partner of Segolene Royal

After five years in office, Sarkozy is also seen by many French citizens as not delivering on his promises - especially in the area of economics.

Charles Kupchan, a European expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the French president is facing an uphill battle for re-election for two reasons.

“One is that the economy has not come back to life,” Kupchan said, despite Sarkozy’s promised “liberalization of the French market place.”

“He’s made some incremental steps to tax reform and to try to liberalize the labor market, and he’s raised the retirement age,” he said, “but French growth is really stuck in neutral.

Kupchan also says, “Sarkozy seems to have lost his political touch. Many, many French voters see him as insufficiently ‘presidential’- he’s down in the trenches. They see him as hyper-active and unable to stick to a steady course.”

Latest public opinion surveys indicate that barring a miracle, Sarkozy will lose the presidency on Sunday to the Socialist Party candidate, Francois Hollande.

Experts predict that Sarkozy will not even get solid support from the followers of the extreme right wing National Front Party led by Marine Le Pen.

Five years ago, Sarkozy won considerable support from the National Front, but experts say he has alienated many of its followers by not delivering on his promises, including one to curb immigration.

“If all the National Front voters were going to vote for Nicolas Sarkozy, they would make a difference,” said Moisi. “But we know from public opinion polls that only 60 percent, at most, of the National Front voters are going to pronounce themselves for Nicolas Sarkozy.”

The other 40 percent, he says, will either vote for Hollande or abstain.

Moisi says National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who came in third in the first round election last month, would not vote for either Hollande or Sarkozy.

“Her ideal is a defeat of Sarkozy and a reconstruction of the right with the National Front as an essential part,” Moisi says,

To make that happen, he says, Le Pen is looking forward to the French legislative elections in June.

“She’s waiting with greed, looking at the new importance of her political party within the right-wing of France.”

As for Sunday’s presidential balloting, Moisi and others say that ironically, the French are not necessarily going to vote for Francois Hollande because of his policies, but because he is not Nicolas Sarkozy.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs