French Presidential Campaing in Final Phase

Posted April 19th, 2012 at 5:15 pm (UTC-5)
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French voters go the the polls on Sunday in the first round of a presidential election in which President Nicolas Sarkozy is seeking reelection and his main rival, Socialist Francois Hollande, is gaining momentum and could become the country's first Socialist leader in nearly 20 years.

Public opinion surveys show both men in a dead heat ahead of first round voting and Hollande slightly ahead in a second round. Both men say they hope for a decisive victory in the first round, but a large number of undecided voters make the outcome uncertain.

Mr. Sarkozy was elected president in 2007. But many French voters say they do not like what they consider to be his flashy personality and inconsistent policies.

Hollande is a veteran politician who headed the Socialist Party for several years. But he has never held a top government post and generally is not considered to be charismatic.

Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Hollande are not the only candidates on Sunday's ballot. Ten hopefuls are vying for the country's top job, with Marine Le Pen on the far right and Jean-Luc Melenchon on the far left. Pollsters say they are likely to place third and fourth, respectively.



“Three more days, and then, if we deserve it, two weeks of campaigning until the second round. This will be a hard, bitter and sometimes brutal battle.''


“I can hear them already. 'If the left come back, they're going to empty the account!' It's happened. 'If the left comes back, we'll all say with a sob in our voices, 'Growth is going to collapse!'' It's happened. 'Unemployment is going to go up!' (CROWD CHANTS 'IT'S HAPPENED') 'The deficit is going to widen!' (CROWD CHANTS 'IT'S HAPPENED') So the left can come back because the right has itself failed.''


“Do you want the alternative? Well then it's now. Do you want change? Well then it's right now. Do you want victory? Well then it'll be on Sunday.''

AP feed: (French) Christophe Barbier, editor in chief of L'Express magazine:

“Nicolas Sarkozy made enthusiastic promises to revive the economy and to enrich the French people. It's not his fault there was a crisis. But he didn't know how to completely protect the French people from it, and he wasn't able to turn the dream that he'd given the French people into a reality. The French people are not very interested in foreign politics. Nicolas Sarkozy may have won with the war in Libya, but he didn't gain one single point in the polls for that.”


Paris, France – Apr 18, 2012

(English) Dominique Moisi, political analyst:

“History will probably treat Sarkozy better than the French people. He has sincerely tried to reform France. He stood at the wheel of the ship when the waves were very high and the winds very strong and he made a difference, I think for the best, in a country like Libya, in the Ivory Coast, by simply intervening and making a difference.”


“My message to the French is a very simple one. We cannot allow ourselves to ratchet up our spending. During the crisis, I have wanted to protect the French. There isn't one French person who has not lost his savings. During the crisis, I have wanted to avoid for France the dramas that Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain have known because we took the right decisions at the right time.


“The worst of the euro crisis is behind us. Europe is recovering. If France were to stop cutting its expenditures and make the wrong choices and consider hiring 60,000 more civil servants as the Socialist candidate proposes — there is not one country in Europe that has decided on such a move. So the punishment that is being meted out to Spain today and the suffering that the Spanish are going through at the moment, well, the French would not be able to escape them either.”