Keen competition ahead of Sarkozy for 2012 election

09:49, July 01, 2011      

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By Huang Yi

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is facing keen competition in next year's presidential election as rivals from different parties announce for candidacy to meet the entry deadline in the year end.

The Socialists, the biggest opposite party, have set a two-round primary in coming October to pick a candidate to challenge Sarkozy. Among them are current party Secretary General Martin Aubry, legislator Francois Hollande and his former partner Segolene Royal.

Aubry, 60, has been the mayor of northern city Lille since 2001, succeeded Hollande as the party's secretary general in November 2008. She was also the former labour minister who best known for creating France's 35-hour working week. In her speech announcing the candidacy on Tuesday, she stressed the importance of making France a more equal place and showed firmness in leading the country.

Hollande, 56, currently runs the southern provincial government of Correze, where former President Jacques Chirac resides. The latter has shown his willingness to vote for Hollande, who had run the Socialist Party for 11 years. Hollande is more a centrist in his own party, able to unite voters for the centre-wing, but has never worked as a ministry of the country.

Hollande's ex-partner, 57-year-old Royal is still ambitious to win the presidency despite of her failure to beat Sarkozy in May 2007.

Had there been not the sex scandal of ex-IMF-director general and French socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) in May this year, he would have easily defeated Sarkozy, according to many opinion polls and political analysts. He is facing allegedly attempted rape charges in the United States.

As DSK belongs to the "right-wing of the leftists," now Sarkozy may slightly benefit from this small group.

Critics also said none of the other Socialist candidates has the same domestic and international influence as DSK, and it is not clear if anyone of them can draw in centrist voters as appealing as him. For the moment critics see not much difference among these potential Socialist candidates.

IFOP poll in mid June showed among the Socialist Party, Hollande gathered support of 44 percent, Aubry gained 36 percent, while Royal shared only 10 percent.

The Socialists still have their risk, several candidates from the environmental Green Party to the far left could share the votes too. This might cause the Socialist candidate falling into the third at the first round, as what happened in 2002.

As for President Sarkozy, to win a second five-year term is not certain yet. Opinion polls keep on showing him in a weak position, Hollande and Aubry would probably beat him in the second round of next year's election, while Royal could come close.

According to the internet poll conducted by Harris Interactive in early June, Hollande would take 60 percent of the second round votes, while Sarkozy got only 40 percent. Even if it were Aubry to run the second round, she could still obtain 58 percent.

What is more, polls show far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen would score 21 to 22 percent in the first round, with Sarkozy gaining 23 to 24 percent. This means Le Pen has a good chance to beat him in the first round and enter the final one, as her father Jean-Marie Le Pen had achieved in 2002.

Centrist politician and ex-environmental minister Jean-Louis Borloo left the cabinet last year during the government reshuffle. He and his fellow politicians participating in the presidential candidacy would mean sharing the votes from the president.

Sarkozy's popularity has dropped from 62 percent when newly elected as the state's head, to the present 28 percent. His people are not satisfied with his work on tackling the economic crisis, high unemployment rate and degrading law and order.

However, his leadership in the war against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the success of G8 summit in Deauville caused 2-point increase in his popularity.

The next French presidential election will start its first round on April 22 and runoff on May 6 next year.

Source: Xinhua
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