Sunday, April 22, 2007
The votes are in for the first round of the French presidential elections, and the French have voted themselves a clear choice for the second round.
The two candidates for the run-off in the second round couldn't be more different in the alternatives they offer for France's future.
Finishing first was France's ex-Interior Minister, Nicholas Sarkozy, with 29.5%, a conservative who favors a break with the past, a revitalized French economy based on free markets and privatization and a more pro-American, pro-Western stance in foreign policy.
Finishing second was the Socialists Ségolène Royal with 26.3%. She has views diametrically opposed to Sakorzy in almost every respect, favoring a rise in the minimum wage, higher taxes on corporations, more government control of the economy and a cultivation of the anti-American attitude favored by much of the French Left.
The ferver of rivalry and confrontation with America would certainly be diminished, and might even disappear, under Sarkozy. Under Royal it appears likely to be cultivated.
In one of her last campaign appearances, in the southwest city of Toulouse, Royale brought her followers to their feet cheering by appealing to disdain and defiance toward the US, saying that France would not ` get down on bended knees before George Bush and America!"
Sarkozy has a very different view of things. When one of Royal's fellow Socialists called him the President Bush's "lapdog" and an "American neo-conservative with a French passport," he said:
"I'd have a harder time shaking hands with a certain number of other heads of states which are not democracies." said Sarkozy. "Profound, sincere and unfailing French friendship with the United States is not submission."
Very different that what we've heard from France for some time, n'est pa?
America, of course, is an issue but far from the main one. Revitalizing France's moribund economy, doing something about the almost 9% unemployment, and dealing with France's increasingly belligerent and separatist Muslim population are France's primary concerns, and resulted in an 84% turnout.
While Sakorzy won the first round, the campaign for the second round is likely to be even more intense. The Left is united as never before against a man they call a neocon and a fascist...and for France's Muslims, who voted socialist almost in a bloc and for a large chunk of the French `anti-Zionist' Left, Sarkozy's Jewish heritage on his mother's side as well as his firm stance on law and order in France's cities are as polarizing as his economic views and his pro-American stance.
There were two other major vote getters in the first round - Union for French Democracy's François Bayrou, who got 18.8 of the vote and took a primarily center-Left position, trying to combine attacking Sarkozy as a conservative with a more centrist stance than the Socialists, and Jean-Marie Le Pen's far right party, which ended up with 11%.
The big question is how much of Bayrou's vote will go to Royal. If both Sarkozy and Royal receive the same percentages they did in the first round,Royal would have to get all of Bayrou's voters to win a narrow victory over Sarkozy - provided he gets none of Le Pen's votes, which is unlikely.
AT this point, I'd call it for Sarkozy par un nez ...or perhaps a lot more.
As the home of Europe's largest Muslim population and the key to EU cooperation with the West, this is a highly important election when it comes to the War on Jihad, and one that may presage a trend..which is why I've been covering it, and why it's important.
Posted by Freedom Fighter at 12:55 PM