French Presidentials: The Story so Far


Presidential Race Still looking like a Two-Horse Contest: Depardieu Lends his Support to Sarkozy for Personal Reasons
The French Presidential Election is great craic and it’s warming up nicely to the first round of voting on the 22nd of this month. The second and final round of voting takes place on the 6th of May.

Marching towards another election victory? Nicolas Sarkozy is polling 46% ; up from 42% at the end of November last

For those of you unacquainted with the French electoral system, it’s something of a halfway house between the PR system such as used in our own republic and the more crude “first-past-the-post” system as used in the UK. Essentially, you have a first and second choice in your voting but what happens is that you place an X on your top choice in the first round. Presuming that no candidate gets over 50% in the first round, all candidates except the top two are eliminated and the two poll-toppers go forward to the second round for a head-to-head.

Going into the race are ten candidates in all. François Hollande of the Socialist Party is currently ahead in the

Socialist candidate François Hollande is at 54% in the polls but losing ground to his closest rival Nicolas Sarkozy and to the "Left Front" candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon

polls, but current centrist/right-leaning President Nicolas Sarkozy is gaining ground, having started his campaign relatively late. A lot of political capital is being made in the aftermath of the Toulouse killings, with the Sarkozy campaign making the most of the apparent fumblings of Hollande over the thorny questions of national security and the concerns of citizens of Muslim extraction.

After that, there are a couple of more interesting candidates. The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is marking an impressive 17% in the polls. Her brand of right-wing is a very French one: a protectionist anti-immigrant credo embedded up in a strong socialist 100% French framework – essentially the same politics as her father.

Another interesting candidate who has been gathering ground (although his campaign still looks doomed with just 11% of voting intentions) is Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The candidate is running on a United Left (Front de Gauche)

Jean-Luc "We're going to need a bigger boat" Mélenchon (pic: Reuters)

ticket and has recently admitted to the growth in support actually costing him more money than expected. His team are suddenly needing to hire larger venues to accommodate the growing crowds (in Vierzon recently, the venue they had hired was swamped with 6,000 supporters when it could only manage 4,500. The party organisers had envisaged a crowd of 2,000). They will now have to borrow a further million euros, increasing their budget from €2.5 million to €3.5 million.

Depardieu at a Sarkozy Campaign Meeting in Villepinte (photo: EPA)

Actor Gérard Depardieu meanwhile, has confirmed his move from declared socialist (he supported François Mitterand in 1987) through to communist (in 2002) and now to the bosom of the distinctly right-of-centre.

He is firmly behind the Sarkozy campaign, declaring the current president of the Republic to be a sound man, even though Depardieu’s motivations appear to be based more on personal experience rather than on any kind of ideology.

“Any time I’ve asked something of Sarko (sic), he has stepped up to the plate,” said Depardieu in a recent interview with weekly satirical paper Le Canard Enchainé. When I recently had some problems with one of my businesses abroad, he went out of his way and sorted out the situation immediately. His diplomatic advisor even called me; he was very kind to me… When I call him, he rings me back within 15 minutes. He’s the President of the Republic and I’m just an actor. And he calls me back straight away. It’s extraordinary… I would have lost a lot of money if he hadn’t helped me out with this problem. Anything he asks me to do, I’ll do it.”

In this video, you can see Depardieu denouncing those who have said nothing but “bad things” about Nicolas Sarkozy since he came to power when the man had done nothing “but good”. He urges voters to support this “decent” candidate. For the record, a recent poll carried out by Le Telegramme newspaper suggested that 88% of potential voters looked unfavourably upon artists who supported presidential candidates.

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