News

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.

This forum has been closed.
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs