Monday, 23 April 2012

Hollande versus Sarkozy: who will win?

Hollande (left) and Sarkozy (right) meet on the campaign trail
(image source: bonjourparis.com)
by George Hope

As expected, socialist candidate Francois Hollande edged out Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of voting in the 2012 French Election. Monsieur Sarkozy becomes the first president to lose in the first round, acquiring 27.1% of the vote to Hollande's 28.6%. Though it is by no means over (in two weeks time the French electorate will go back to the polling stations and will this time choose between just the two aforementioned candidates), it seems likely that Hollande will become France's first socialist President since Mitterand who held office from 1981-1995.

It is interesting that the more extremist candidates, Marine Le Pen (18.1%) and Jean-Luc Melenchon (11.1%), between them gained more votes that either Hollande or Sarkozy showing the growing discontent among vast numbers of voters. With such a large section of the electorate opting for Le Pen, it is essential that Sarkozy wins over the far right voters - this seems his only realistic chance in the second round, whereas Hollande can, and almost certainly will, appeal to the centre and the centre-left.

Marine Le Pen (see link to article below) managed to gain more votes than her father did in 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen was able to come second in the first round, only to be beaten comfortably in the second by Jacques Chirac. It will be seen as a positive that at each election, the vote for the Front National seems to be ever-increasing. She told her supporters that this is "only the start" and went on to imply that in the years to come, the Front National will pose more of a threat to the left than the UMP (Sarkozy's party).

Hollande is undoubtedly the favourite going into the second round. He seems the likely candidate to not only gain the support of the Left Front (Melenchon voters) but also the centre ground (Bayrou), as well as his own voters. As for Sarkozy, the extent of his support is not so clear amongst Le Pen voters, who may be split between abstention, Sarkozy and even Hollande (the "anything but Sarkozy" mantra).

See George Hope's article on the Front National:
See George Hope'a article on the unpopularity of Sarkozy

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