Friday, March 16, 2012

Fascinating Presidential Race in France For Those Who Are Interested

Yes Americans, The Rest of the World Does Have Politics Too

For the political junkies who cannot wait for the interminable Republican race for the nomination to be over so the real election can begin, there is the Presidential race in France to consider.  The race is a two part affair, an everybody is entered contest in April where candidates from all parties are on the ballot and a second contest in May between the two top finishers.  The incumbent President, Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande are expected to be the finalists.

Mr. Sarkozy is the underdog in the race because of, well because the economy in France has not been doing well and incumbents usually have to take the blame.  Mr. Sarkozy is taking lessons from the Mitt Romney school of political thinking, and is tacking to the right in order to shore up his base against the left wing candidacy of Mr. Hollande.  He is upset on the immigration policy of Europe and the policy that once a person is inside the European Union countries that person can move freely from country to country.

Eric Feferberg/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Nicolas Sarkozy arrived on stage to deliver
a speech during a campaign rally on
Sunday in Villepinte, near Paris

Trying to recreate the excitement of his victorious 2007 campaign, Mr. Sarkozy gathered his cabinet; his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy; the former prime minister Édouard Balladur; Bernadette Chirac, a politician and the wife of former President Jacques Chirac; and even the actor Gérard Depardieu to hear him threaten to pull France out of the European Union’s visa-free Schengen agreement unless Europe provides better protection from illegal immigration.

He is also appealing to basic French values and is adopting the tone of a former U. S. politician

he spoke with vaguely Nixonian references, calling his supporters “the silent majority” and condemning “intellectuals” who “sit around talking.” The Socialist Party is thought to have a larger share of intellectual support than Mr. Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement.

although his knowledge of U. S. political history may be a big vague, since Richard Nixon is usually not the ‘go to’ politician that comes to mind when one is looking for a model of success.

The race is not real close at this point, Mr. Hollande has a 10 point lead in a face to face match up, but that contest is two months away, and the support for an inexperienced Socialist even in France is not all that deep

While Mr. Sarkozy has crept closer to the Socialist Party candidate, François Hollande, in opinion polls for the first round of voting, he remains more than 10 percentage points behind Mr. Hollande in a projected runoff between the two men. The French in general are tired of Mr. Sarkozy and anxious about the economy and the high rate of unemployment, the highest here in 12 years. But they are not passionate about Mr. Hollande either, so Mr. Sarkozy and his aides believe they have a chance to win by citing Mr. Sarkozy’s experience, decisiveness and leadership.

And unlike both Mr. Romney and Mr. Nixon, Mr. Sarkozy actually seems to have a little bit of humility

In an effort to consolidate his wavering supporters for the first round of voting on April 22, Mr. Sarkozy, who has mixed apologies for his mistakes of tone and style with an aggressive turn to the right, promised again that he had “changed” and said that “I have learned” from his errors and challenges. 

And to outsiders he does seem successful in forging an alliance with Germany with respect to European economic policy, and a Franco-German alliance is almost historical in the fact that it even exists at all.

So until Republicans get around to acknowledging the obvious, that Mr. Romney will be the nominee, if anyone needs a political fix they can start following their favorite French candidate in the April first round, where the French political equivalent of Iona and Western Kentucky gets to play.  And with the NCAA basketball tournament over by then, it’s the perfect opportunity for that next office pool.

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