April 22, 2007

Will Sarkozy be Monsieur le President?

The first round of the French presidential election began today with 12 political parties and ended with two. The establishment right- and left-wing parties won, putting an end to the candidacy of the late-surging centrist, François Bayrou, and shutting out the right-wing extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen, who to France's shame made it to the final round in 2002. Now, the winner will be determined in a run-off on May 6, and sworn in just 10 days later.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative candidate, heads the political party founded by Jacques Chirac, the UMP (originally, the Union for a Presidential Majority, now called the Union for a Popular Movement.) Sarkozy is a hyper-ambitious politician who gets results (for example, during his first term as Interior Minister, he significantly reduced drunk driving rates), but who also scares many people with his harsh rhetoric (he called North-African rioters living in housing projects "scum.")

Ségolène Royal, the Socialist candidate, is the first female presidential candidate to reach the second round. She is more compassionate than Sarkozy, but has made several widely ridiculed gaffes on foreign policy, including backing the succession of Quebec from Canada and praising the Chinese justice system.  She also has not explained how she will pay for the generous social programs in her platform.

At this point, Sarkozy looks well placed to win. He is ahead in polls, and he is also likely to pick up the majority of Bayrou's voters (18% of the first round total), because Bayrou's UDF party, while centrist, leans to the right.  Le Pen supporters are more likely to back Sarkozy, too.

Of course, a lot can happen between now and May 6.   Either candidate could make a serious gaffe, or disenfranchised immigrants could riot against Sarkozy, or Bayrou could get strongly behind Royal, etc., etc.

In the meantime, the candidates of some fairly marginal parties are still withholding their endorsements from the mainstream candidates in order to make the most of their "leverage."  Our favorite is Frédéric Nihous of the Hunting, Fishing, Nature and Traditions party, who is advising the 1.3% who voted for him to wait and see who adopts his positions on rural life, which include a moratorium on the application of EU Hygiene laws.

By Will Friedman in Foreign Affairs | Permalink  | 


It's great to see you back in the blogosphere! I've missed you, Latte Man. Funny, though, I notice that instead of U.S. politics, the focus seems to have shifted eastward... At any rate, welcome back!

Posted by: Masked Translator | Apr 23, 2007 7:42:02 PM

Thanks, Masked Translator. I have to admit, I sometimes find it hard to say something original about US politics now that I'm living here again, and I prefer not to just repeat what others are saying. The French presidential election is a good chance to cover a topic in more depth.

Posted by: Will | Apr 23, 2007 8:41:07 PM

Thanks for the info, keep focusing on this election, i get shit for news here :<

Posted by: Intrested | Apr 24, 2007 8:15:33 AM

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