Friday, 20 April 2007

Too close to call: French vote unpredictable

The first round of the French presidential election draws nearer. After today, opinion polls can no longer be published as to not compromise the vote.

Roughly 40% of the French electorate are still unsure of who they’ll vote for. The question is, how many of that 40% will vote?

At this time Sarkozy still has a good lead overall (nearly/about one-third of the vote), with Royal also following in the 20s (%) and Bayrou with not even 20% of the overall vote. Of course, since many are undecided, this election is looking very close, especially in the second round. Bayrou ruled out an alliance with Royal — and vice versa — against their center-right challenge, Nicolas Sarkozy. It is scary how a racist, extreme rightist like Jean-Marie Le Pen can still hold on to 14% support.

Polls indicate that in a second round run, Sarkozy would clearly beat Royal, and Bayrou would beat Sarkozy. However, since Royal is likely to beat Bayrou to get to the second round, who knows. The French will go to the polls to vote for a range of 12 candidates this Sunday the 22nd. Whichever two come out on top will face off on 6 May.

This election is one of the closest in recent history – and whoever wins will be the most powerful person in France.

The Economist

Reigning large in this election are major issues such as immigration (see 2005 minority riots, which showed Sarkozy's ugly side) and law and order; the economy (unemployment is up, job security and massive civil service sector is a problem, as is lack of liberalization); the shunning of aspects of the EU (which the leaders need to take initiative on nonetheless even if the people do not understand); and big government, in which the current French bureaucracy trumps (corruption included). Another political matter is the divided French left; considering France is a typically left-leaning country, that is an issue. One thing I have noticed is the lack mention of foreign policy by the candidates.

Where the three main candidates stand on issues shows their contrast, and similarities. Many of Bayrou's proposals are attractive, but, as The Economist touches as in their leader supporting Sarkozy, he is not a political heavyweight. Good news about Sarkozy: he does stand for reform; France needs all the reform it can get at this point.

No doubt change will be on its way.

News sites in depth on election:

  • BBC News
  • The Economist
  • Financial Times

    Blogs to watch:
  • Prospect Magazine's France Profounde
  • French √Člection 2007

  • Can’t forget Wikipedia!

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