Friday, February 09, 2007

Meet The French Presidential Election's Wild Card

Called so by the IHT, someone is trying to be a wild card in the French elections, between the two front runners, Sarkozy and Royal. His name is Francois Bayrou, and he is a centrist.

PARIS: Judging from magazine covers and recent political books, there are only two candidates in France's presidential campaign: Nicolas Sarkozy, the feisty Gaullist interior minister, and Ségolène Royal, the inscrutable Socialist contender.

But as the nation's two main parties snipe at each other, a third candidate is quietly gaining ground in the center. François Bayrou, leader of the Union for French Democracy, whose presidential bid in 2002 barely registered, is emerging as a dark horse in this race.

"The French are tired of the left-right Ping-Pong match," Bayrou, 55, said at a recent campaign rally. "They want an alternative to the Ségo-Sarko duel."

Looks good on paper, but how much of a real chance will he have?

But with two and a half months to go to the first round of voting on April 22, such a duel still looks by far the most likely. Sarkozy and Royal are expected to sail into a May 6 run-off with 32 percent and 26 percent of the first-round vote respectively, the latest poll by the TNS Sofres institute indicates.

But 13 percent of voters told the pollster that they would cast their ballot for Bayrou, up from 9 percent two weeks ago and 7 percent throughout the autumn.

Looks like he has gained some ground, but more distance must be made up, if he is to have much of a chance. France is divided, much like America is divided. It's hard to imagine that a centrist candidate can unite two diametrically opposing forces.


Greg said...

I don't think France is all that divided. What is the difference b/w Sego and Sarko anyway? Where do they actually differ on the issues? There may be a philosophical difference re the economy, w/ Sarko being more free market than Sego who is a socialist at least in name. Oh, and the socialists say Sarko is an "american with a french passport" (that's supposed to be an insult, btw). Other than that....

Anyway, Bayrou can only play the role of a Perot-Nader style spoiler for one candidate. Or worse than that - he can spoil it for both of the leading candidates, making it easier for le Pen to end up in the second round.

LASunsett said...


//don't think France is all that divided. //

Sure it is. It's divided between the ones that hate America, and the ones that just don't care for America.

ms. miami said...

Sure it is. It's divided between the ones that hate America, and the ones that just don't care for America.

lasunsett- very funny.

seriously, i think that most french people would have a more passionate debate over different types of cheese or paté. i don't think that they really think about the u.s. very often.

Mary Ellen said...


So, if this guy Bayrou continues to gain ground, who will he be most likely to take votes away from?

From what I've been reading, Royal is running her campaign on PR soundbites...a lot of noise about what is wrong, but no real substinitive ideas on how to fix the problems. She also seems to be very anti-American, whereas Sarkozy is more pro-American. Royal also doesn't seem to have a lot of credibility on foreign affairs.

Does Bayrou have a better campaign strategy than just saying "if you don't like them, go with me" ?

LASunsett said...


//lasunsett- very funny. //

Like that?

Like the movie character, Arthur, sometimes I just think funny thoughts.


LASunsett said...

//So, if this guy Bayrou continues to gain ground, who will he be most likely to take votes away from? //

Hard to say, I am not well adept at the demographics of French politics, as I am often told by many of my French readers. But, I would be interested to know, where did he pick up that 4%, in the last two weeks? Establish that much, and we might have our answer.

Rocket said...

Ms Miami's remarks on the French debate over America that the French would rather debate paté and cheese are totally false! In fact I have to say, How terribly stereotyped! She does a horrible disservice to the French people by these remarks. One has to live in the country in order that one can appreciate "à quel point les français sont obnubilé par les états unis". In other words at what point they are obssesed by America. I have lived in this country for over 30 years, speak French 10 times better than her understand all of the nuances in the language as well as insinuation etc. But excuse my French. She hasn't a clue of what she is speaking about. Cheese and paté. Lest we forget the beret, baguette and the wine.

All is well if you are American and blindly support the French "pensée unique" but once you diverge from that line of thinking, then the whole gamut of their obsession falls upon you. Every time there is some headline news they all run around chirping how awful it is that the US did this or that and then 6 months later the same thing happens in France an there is a stoney silence.

Read the newspapers every day and listen to the radio. It's a far cry from some opinion formulated across an ocean by a home grown dislike of ones own country.(meaning in the case the United States)

Just yesterday Liberation ran the following story for those of you who read French.

This is one example on one day at one particular time. Tomorrow is another day.

Rocket said...

More cheese and paté found 5 minutes after my last post

LASunsett said...

Hi Rocket,

The displeasure of English being the universal language used in the international community, is certainly not new.

There was a time in history that French was the predominant language spoken in international affairs was French. Part of that was probably due to England being such a hated entity on the continent.

The funny thing about this now is, the French cannot understand that the bulk of the world will not be willing to learn French, just accommodate them. But really now, what's the problem with using translators? If they print something we want to read, I am sure it will be easy to translate, no?