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    Socialist in Strong Position to Win French Presidency

    Socialist Party candidate for the presidential election Francois Hollande, left, and current President and conservative candidate for re-election Nicolas Sarkozy , right, pose before a televised debate in Paris,  May, 2, 2012.
    Socialist Party candidate for the presidential election Francois Hollande, left, and current President and conservative candidate for re-election Nicolas Sarkozy , right, pose before a televised debate in Paris, May, 2, 2012.

    France holds its presidential runoff election Sunday, with Socialist challenger Francois Hollande expected to defeat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

    The latest opinion polls indicate President Sarkozy has narrowed the gap behind his Socialist rival, but Hollande is still expected to emerge victorious.

    In office five years, President Sarkozy has faced criticism for his handling of the economy, as well as his brash style.

    Council on Foreign Relations analyst Charles Kupchan says the president has lost the popularity he once enjoyed.

    "Sarkozy promised what he called 'a rupture' - a break with the past, a liberalization of the French marketplace," he said. "And he has made some incremental steps to tax reform and to try to liberalize the labor market, and he has raised the retirement age - but French growth is really stuck in neutral.  And the second thing is that Sarkozy seems to have lost his political touch.  Many, many French voters see him as insufficiently 'presidential' - he is down in the trenches.  They see him as hyperactive and unable to stick to a steady course."

    Hollande is a veteran politician who headed the Socialist Party for several years, but he has never held a top government post.  Friday marked his and Sarkozy's final day of campaigning.

    "Don't imagine that your problems will dissipate, evaporate suddenly with the outgoing candidate.  No, we will have to work together," said Hollande. "I can't disappoint you, that's why I have promised nothing in this campaign that I am not able to live up to.  You will not be disappointed, you will not be forgotten.  You will be defended, you will be respected because what constitutes our strength, yours and mine, is that you will respect your next president and the next head of state will respect each and everyone one of you for whatever you are, citizens of the Republic.  Together on the sixth of May, long live the Republic, long live France."

    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

    The Socialist candidate's presidential bid received a boost Thursday, when former candidate, centrist Francois Bayrou, said he would vote for him.  Bayrou won 9 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential elections last month.

    President Sarkozy downplayed Bayrou's announcement at a campaign rally Friday.

    "Each one of us, each one of us has the decision in our hands," he said. "Those who don't vote will let others decide for them.  Those who vote, will decide with their spirit and conscience, but they should not let others decide for them."

    Meanwhile, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who finished third in the first round of balloting last month, said she will not support either candidate in the runoff.

    In a televised debate Wednesday, Hollande and Sarkozy accused each other of lying during exchanges on economic policies.  In campaigning, Hollande has blamed the president for France's unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent and called for sweeping changes to improve the nation's public finances.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: mart
    May 06, 2012 3:03 PM
    Vive la France, vive la république

    by: White Devil
    May 05, 2012 7:41 PM
    Ffffft! Le Pen is going to kick both of these clowns around.

    by: Thierry
    May 05, 2012 2:18 PM
    JM: "Oust Sarko from the Presidency". Unfortunately this is the leading simplistic idea floating around in the French streets. The global economic crisis will not just magically disappear because S goes out. You do not like his style but at least he kept France on the map. Besides being 'a la mode anti-Sarko', I am not sure what Hollande is really proposing. More spending? Protected jobs? This would have been ok under Mitterand, but in 2012 with a global market?

    by: Lou Rodrigues
    May 05, 2012 2:03 PM
    How a Russian sounding name like "Nicolas Sarkozy" got elected as a French President in the last election, is beyond imagination. To me he always seemed very fake and untrustyworthy.

    by: Johnnydoeist
    May 05, 2012 10:18 AM
    Good riddance to Nicolas "Ghetto Burner" Sarkozy. Instead of owning up to his failures, he tried to shift the blame of his shortcomings on immigrants, minorities and the labour unions.

    by: Jean-Marc
    May 05, 2012 8:41 AM
    I'm about to vote to oust "Sarko" from the Presidency, mostly because he didn't act properly during his 5-years term and shows no sign of remorse. For 5 years, he displayed his contempt of ordinary citizens and his servility to the rich, he attempted to seize control of the Media and Justice, and now he blames the unemployed, the immigrants and the labour unions for the economic crisis.

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