France’s Sarkozy Announces Candidacy for Re-election

Posted February 15th, 2012 at 3:50 pm (UTC-5)
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy has formally announced that he will seek a second five-year term in this year's presidential elections.

Mr. Sarkozy made a televised announcement Wednesday evening. The elections are set for April 22 with a runoff May 6 if necessary.

The latest opinion polls show the incumbent behind opposition Socialist leader Francois Hollande. Mr. Sarkozy blamed the decline in his popularity to the past three years of financial crisis and promised to work on creating new jobs.

During his presidency unemployment in France has risen to about 10 percent. He also has marshalled unpopular economic reforms, including raising the retirement age from 60 to 62, and making it easier for businesses to hire and fire employees. Political analyst Dominique Moisi says the president's personal life-style has not helped either.

“The first two years, from that standpoint were catastrophic – a combination of triviality, vulgarity and personal marital conditions that really destabilized the French, especially the conservatives, in their vision of their president. And though he caught up, though he improved himself, it is likely that the image of the first two years will remain prevalent.”

Moisi says it is unlikely that Mr. Sarkozy can overcome front-runner Francois Hollande in the next two months. The Socialists leader has benefited from the voters' discontent and is campaigning on the platform that takes aim at the rich people and the world of finance.

“As things stand today, I think that Francois Hollande will be the next President of France, though in all likelihood, the result will be much more tight than it looks today. So it can be a very classical victory, 52-48, but on balance, the cards of Hollande, look much better than the cards of Sarkozy.”

In addition to Hollande, Mr. Sarkozy will also face the leader of the far-right National Front party Marine Le Pen, who succeeded her father Jean-Marie Le Pen; center-right politician Francois Bayrou; Leftists Eva Joly and Jean-Luc Melenchon and former prime minister and Mr. Sarkozy's arch rival Dominique de Villepin.