French presidential election: 'A beginning not an end'

Nicolas Sarkozy on the campaign trail Nicolas Sarkozy will need to appeal to right-wing voters if he is to have a chance of winning the run-off.

The French presidential election is far from settled. Francois Hollande is the favourite, but much can happen over the next two weeks. His lead over President Sarkozy was narrow.

The socialist candidate has one immediate advantage. The far left - represented by Jean-Luc Melenchon - has pledged its support to Mr Hollande.

President Sarkozy cannot, however, depend on the votes of the far right.

Marine Le Pen's vote at 19% exceeded all expectations. Her votes may well determine who wins the second round.

Last week at a Le Pen rally there were boos every time Sarkozy's name was mentioned. He is regarded by many on the right as a betrayer, a man who says one thing on the hustings and another when in office.

Leaning right

So will Nicolas Sarkozy go hunting those far-right voters? The fact is that he won't be re-elected without some of their votes.

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President Sarkozy cannot retain the presidency by just appealing to the right. He must attack the credibility of his opponent. ”

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He said the results show the importance of controlling immigration and saving jobs. Whereas Francois Hollande can tack to the centre, President Sarkozy must appeal to the right.

The first part of Sarkozy's speech after the vote touched on all the right-wing themes of identity, security, immigration and, as he put it, "the concern of our compatriots to preserve our way of life".

However determined President Sarkozy may be to fight on, he was rejected by a majority of the French people. A sitting president barely won a quarter of the vote.

"It's the first time that a former president is not leading the score," said Laurent Fabius, a former prime minister.

The first round result revealed a dissatisfaction and restlessness in France. The elites are despised. The economic future is feared. There is insecurity. All of that leads to volatility in the polls.

This result reveals yet again how the eurozone crisis continues to threaten incumbents. Nearly a fifth of voters backed a party that wants to ditch the euro and return to the franc.

No to Europe
Francois Hollande after the first round of voting in the French election Francois Hollande came out of the first round on top, but his victory was narrow

Both the far left and the far right tapped into a deep disillusionment with globalisation and European institutions.

Hollande tries to surf this mood but understands how dangerous it is. He had this message - particularly for Berlin - that he wants to "re-orientate Europe on a path of growth and employment".

President Sarkozy cannot retain the presidency by just appealing to the right. He must attack the credibility of his opponent.

That is why he has challenged Francois Hollande to three TV debates. He believes that in a face-to-face argument he can expose the socialist economic programme as dangerous for France.

With a Hollande victory in prospect, it will be interesting to see what the markets do in the next two weeks and whether France's borrowing costs edge higher.

Marine Le Pen will now be a significant force in French politics.

She said the "first round isn't the end but the beginning of a vast coming-together of patriots of the right and the left, and the defenders of its identity, the lovers of what makes the French exceptional".

Gavin Hewitt Article written by Gavin Hewitt Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

Scotland's vote weighs on Europe

A Scottish Yes vote would pose a big challenge to EU membership rules, Europe editor Gavin Hewitt writes.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    @ 107. quietoaktree

    The initative came from London and H.M. government under Thatcher. Reagan followed. Without the weight of the USA the Brits couldn't have invented this destruction of financial market rules worldwide, that's right.

    @ 130. Suilerua

    I didn'd wrote about the Debt Crisis you are talking about, although it became urgent because of the Financial Crisis.

    And please: D.m.t.w.!

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    I suspect that the leftwing lead in the first round is not a reflection of any desire for a leftwing government (after all, no goverrnment in Europe can afford a socialist government) but of votes lost temporarily from Sarkozy to the right. On the second round, most of these will go to Sarkozy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Re #138 Eddy from Waring : "Good morning".

    Easy for you to say.

    But just to make your day here's an American contribution to Socialism:

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.


    "...It may surprise you, but there's more than one time zone in these United States..."


    Not at all, that's why I asked whether you were in the same one as the other poster, assuming you were both US based.

    Good morning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    #128 IATS

    "A question, are you part of Brussels PR team" ?

    No, but I attempt to be realistic (using personal experience where I can) -- when discussing.

    --Have also lived a few years in Edinburgh and looked at the society.

    - and know of the previous (?) difficulties to get any ( or much balanced) news about Europe or the EU from local media.

    --reading some contributions - little has changed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    132.Eddy from Waring

    It may surprise you, but there's more than one time zone in these United States.

    Same post from New York, some from Colorado, some from California, some from Alaska, others from Hawai'i and even Guam.

    And on top of that we're a travelling, mobile bunch.

    Sometimes posting from Australia&NZ, sometimes from Japan/ South Korea.

    Judging by your IP - good morning!

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    IS_ANYONE_THAT_SURE "National pride, politicians remember.!!!"

    It may please you to know that it's Scotts who own famous Greyhound bus co. in the U.S. right now. Congrat!

    [perhaps they're more frugal than previous owners. ;-) ]

    PS. Hard to blame 2008 US banking crisis for EZ woes when they began with Germany and France violating its deficit rules since 2003.

    Encouraging others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Timothy re European immigrants to America...

    "How about the losers that couldn't make it in Europe and the religious bigots who no one in the right minds wanted in Europe."

    You might have had a point if over 200 years of irrefutable evidence wouldn't show that they've been entreprising winners and independent thinkers escaping religious intolerant bigots descending from Inquisitors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.


    #81 pmk

    -- It seems the native Americans would be happy --if you left.

    Any evidence of that, or merely wishful thinking of America-haters?

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.


    "...It sure takes Europe a long time..."


    It seems to take you and PMK a very long time indeed, to feel you've repeated yourselves often enough.

    In what time zone are you two? I'd hoped it might be the same, and that you'd at least go to bed at the same time, but evidently not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Viva la socialist!

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    102"M. Thatcher and the City of London caused the World Financial Crisis."

    It wasn't Thatcher, the City of London or the USA that persuaded dumb bankers in Deutchebank and SocGen to speculate in derivatives or buy sovereign debt, they did it to themselves.And it wasn't the USA that started two world wars and nearly had a third one fought over itself. The nation with that distinction would be..

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    It sure takes Europe a long time to die.It's like one of those operas where the dying heroine sings on and on.It's a question of who can hold out longer, the soprano or the audience. It's boring hearing the same story over and over again.Can't we move on to something new in the news.That;s why its calle N-E-W-S, its supposed to be new all the time. A civil war in the mid-east would be a change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.


    A question, are you part of Brussels PR team. Just read a few of your posts, so pro Euro & so many. Not an insult, any opinion is valid, basis of democracy. But never take the high moral or intellect ground. History shows, basic arguments are solved by basic actions If the elite don't listen to the base. There is anger across Europe, don't turn it into hate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.


    Not sure if you gave right directions on this discussion, but 111 is valid topic. I am not French, or politically motivated, just feel the Europeans cannot be united. I'm a Unionist Scot, currency shared with England, because we are a united kingdom. The only way it can work in Europe, but even the Scots are talking about independence.

    National pride, politicians remember.!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    #125 IATS

    --the Euro was a French requirement to agree to German re-unification.

    See my #111 --a much different view is presented.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Put simply the political class, and it's bureaucrats were using the Euro as a first step to United States of Europe. It was bound to fail eventually, but it wasn't what they expected, not independent national pride, the boom bubble burst. People are not just blaming the banks any more but the politicians who led them into it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    #122 IATS

    -- " If PIIGS can't devalue the Euro, how can they control finances."

    -- leave the Euro --and then devalue every few months as they did before.

    -- Then try everything possible to get (say) Euros (or $) for some financial security.

    -- I´ve seen it all before in Greece, Italy and Turkey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    #120 IATS

    " The old DM would be riding high at the present moment, the Euro would fall through the floor."

    --and the $ would be in the basement, considering the present $-Euro exchange rate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.


    Dead right, don;t agree with all your argument, but basic monetary supply & control should be sovereign.Not dictated or enforced by unelected bodies. If PIIGS can't devalue the Euro, how can they control finances.


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