News

    Voter Anger Bodes Change in France

    Socialist Party candidate for the presidential election Francois Hollande meets a resident with his companion Valerie Trierweiler, center, as he tours Tulle, after voting , May 6, 2012.
    Socialist Party candidate for the presidential election Francois Hollande meets a resident with his companion Valerie Trierweiler, center, as he tours Tulle, after voting , May 6, 2012.

    Sunday's national elections in Greece and France, along with local elections in Italy, are expected to be shaped by voter anger over Europe's high unemployment, sluggish growth and harsh government austerity measures.  In France, that anger could see President Nicolas Sarkozy lose to Socialist rival Francois Hollande in the runoff presidential election.

    Voters trickle out of a municipal building on a chilly morning, heading home - or to a street market just around the corner to do their Sunday shopping.

    Cyril Blanchard is one of them. A manager at Thompson-Reuters financial company, he says France's economic problems have helped shape his vote. Blanchard's choice: conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    "I think we really need to do something to fight against the crisis and to reduce our deficits and to work on the wealth of the country, so that's what decided my vote," he said.

    During his campaign, Sarkozy tried to convince voters he has the experience and stamina to make the tough choices that France needs at a time of high unemployment and almost zero growth. The French president also talked tough on curbing immigration.

    Socialist candidate Francois Hollande says France needs measures to boost growth as well as cut spending.  He wants to renegotiate a European fiscal pact in this direction.  While Mr. Hollande also wants less immigration, his rhetoric and platform are less harsh than Sarkozy's.

    Hollande's arguments have convinced teacher Delphine Barnier Schilot, who cast her ballot for the Socialist candidate.

    Schilot believes Sarkozy's five years in office have been negative in every way. She says Hollande is fair and has integrity. She believes he will be able to tackle France's difficult economic problems.

    Sunday's vote caps a bitter runoff campaign between the two candidates, who traded barbs and accusations of lying.

    At the market near the polling station, some French, like fish seller Abdel Chili, are turned off by both men. He's cast an empty ballot in this runoff.

    Chili sees little difference between Sarkozy and Hollande. But he's particularly angry at the French president, whom he calls a liar. But he says all politicians are just actors.

    Chili's angry words are reflected across Europe, where people are bitter and tired after several years of tough economic times. They have vented their anger with their ballots, casting out more than half a dozen governments to date.

    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
    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Hasan
    May 06, 2012 11:11 AM
    Bye Sarkozy and old fashioned policies

    by: ELChocko
    May 06, 2012 7:05 AM
    The French will lead the way that government will work in the future...print more money and buy off poor people with bread cake. France is a great country, maybe they will remember their history of internal courage and hard work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora