April 22, 2007


Sarkozy, Royal lead French election (Reuters. 4/22/07)

Conservative leader Nicolas Sarkozy has finished first in the opening round of France's presidential election and will meet Socialist rival Segolene Royal in a run-off vote, initial returns show.

With just over 80 per cent of the vote counted, Mr Sarkozy had 30.7 per cent of the vote, Ms Royal was in second place on 25.17 per cent and centrist Francois Bayrou was third with 18.4 per cent.

Far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who stunned France by coming second in the 2002 election, looked set to finish a distant fourth with around 11.05 per cent.

Now for the race to the centre of France: Sarkozy may be the man to beat. But Royal could still pip him to the Elysée - with a little help from the voters who backed the man in the middle (Mark Tran, April 23, 2007, Guardian Unlimited)

The combined left vote in the first round came to 36.4%, including Ms Royal's 25.84% and that of the other candidates on the left such as the anti-globalisation candidate José Bové and Arlette Laguiller, the Trotskyist candidate. All those on the left can be expected to rally to Royal in a "stop Sarkozy" coalition.

But Mr Sarkozy still has the numerical advantage. The combined left vote does not match up to that on the right. Mr Sarkozy came top, with 31.1%. And the vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the National Front, collapsed to 10.5% from his shock 18% in the first round of the 2002 presidential vote, with many defecting to Mr Sarkozy. Mr Le Pen has said he gets on better with Mr Sarkozy than with Mr Chirac, so it is likely that the 78-year-old former paratrooper will fall in line behind Mr Sarkozy.

So for the second round, Mr Sarkozy can count on a solid foundation of 41% of the popular vote. That makes him the man to beat. But there remain all those Bayrou voters to play for. If - and it is, admittedly, a big if - most of them throw their support for Ms Royal, then she could still pip Mr Sarkozy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 22, 2007 3:57 PM

Big turnout, if the socialists vote for Royal, she could win.

Posted by: Sandy P at April 22, 2007 4:53 PM

Yes, but wouldn't all of the Left and half of the center give her the win?

France certainly can't say they don't have a choice this time. And even if Sarkozy wins, he'll be battling huge and powerful unions and an immense government bureaucracy. I wish him luck, but he'll have a task as tough as Reagan's and Thatcher's put together.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 22, 2007 6:35 PM

Pretty rare to have high turnout after the alternatives get knocked out. No one new was turning out to vote for these two, were they?

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2007 7:33 PM

You don't think the runoff will have a high turnout? I do. The choice is pretty stark, and I suspect the average French voter knows the country is in trouble.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 22, 2007 9:14 PM

The last time was stark and they did have higher turnout in the runoff. I don't believe that's generally the case, but don't really know.

It's France. Nothing will change until it's majority Muslim.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2007 10:55 PM