Thursday, 3 May 2007

French Presidential Elections - Towards the Second Turn

Official logo of the French Republic

The first turn of the French presidential elections took place last week without any real surprise. The two favorites, Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal were selected to fight it out in the second turn on 6th May. They promptly went back to campaigning.

With a record turnout of 85% (compared to the apparently low 72% at the previous elections in 2002), the extremes probably had little chance to make any significant inroad: Nicolas Sarkozy came first with 30.5% of votes, Ségolène Royal gained 25.7%, François Bayrou did well with 18.6% of votes (from his 2002 score of 6.8%) and Le Pen only got 11% of votes. Neither Greens nor Communists came over 5% of the votes. This means they will no get a refund of their campaign costs by the state.

Royal and Sarkozy are now waiting for Bayrou (the centrist) to endorse either of them Bayrou has decided to leave the suspense as it is and said that he can't make a decision for his voters.

As I think I mentioned on my previous post on the elections, I am not really aware of the exact policies of the candidates. I am registered to the electoral list with the French consulate here in London and as such received a round robin email from all four favorites in advance of the first vote (I have already received another one from Sarkozy this week and am expecting Royal's anytime now). I only took the time to read the first two emails I received; those of Bayrou and Sarkozy. While Bayrou's seemed fairly reasonable, offering concrete solutions to problems that seem to be facing expats (mostly stuff about children's schooling it seems), Sarkozy. which was longer as I recall, was nothing but empty and meaningless rethoric on the theme of his interest in us and our interest. I dread to thing what Le Pen's contains.

I am really happy that I don't have to choose between the two remaining candidates. On the one hand, the socialist Royal seems to me utterly without clout and while she claims to want change she also seems to want to keep her party's old policies. On the other hand, Sarkozy is percieved as (almost) economically liberal (being often called the French Thatcher, also he is probably nothing as bad) and he probably is what the French economy needs. He is however in no way socially liberal and I don't that that this is what French society, which is truely in crisis, needs.

Still, it would be rather amusing to have a first female president named Royal, considering how the République itself came to being.

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