Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Can the most unpopular president in French history still win?

by George Hope
Caricatures of the four main French presidential candidates (source: Daily Telegraph)

Espressos are being drunk by the gallon throughout France’s infamous cafes as the French people discuss the possible outcome of the 2012 French election. Abstentions seem inevitable, because a large disillusioned minority seem determined not to vote for Sarkozy but point out at the same time that they would never vote for a socialist either. The Telegraph reported on 15th April that Nicolas Sarkozy is now the most unpopular President in France’s history, but despite this, he is tipped to reach the second tour. In the French system, if there is no outright majority winner, the nation is asked to revote – this time only the two highest performing candidates from the first round take part. But it is at this stage that the political peine capitale or capital punishment could occur for Sarkozy, as it is predicted that François Hollande (who promotes a 75% tax on the income of earners over €1 million) will sweep him away to become the new Président de la République française.
As for third place – not that it really matters – it looks as though it’s going to be an acrimonious battle between Marine Le Pen of Le Front National, who states her ambition is to reach the second round as her father did (only to be defeated by Jacques Chirac with ease) and surprise-card Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who sits on the opposite side of the spectrum to Le Pen. Mélenchon rallied support of 120,000 in Marseille on Saturday 14th, and it is he and Le Pen who will show, for better or worse, the discontent among the French people of centralist politics and the status quo.

There was an interesting article in The Guardian on Friday 13th (see below). Lizzy Davies explored the importance of Britain’s say in the election. It is estimated that 300,000-400,000 French people have opted to cross La Manche (the French word for ‘sleeve’ and the English Channel – a perceptive comparison). For Vincent Drapeau, “Hollande may win an anti-Sarkozy win”. Philippe Marlière agrees: “It’s not that Hollande is a sexy candidate… but people are so disillusioned and angry… it’s just ‘anyone but Sarkozy’.” 80,000 French people living in Britain have registered to vote in the election, and though not a number as high as it should be, this is not a community to overlook.

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