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May 6, 2012

Sarkozy indicates stepping back from politics

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy indicated on Sunday he would step down from political leadership after accepting responsibility for his defeat by Socialist Francois Hollande.

During his campaign, he had promised to quit politics if he became only the second French president to lose a bid for re-election. Conceding defeat on Sunday, he said: “I am not a man to shirk responsibilities. When there is a defeat, it is the Number 1 who accepts the consequences.

May 6, 2012

Socialists celebrate as French vote nears close

PARIS (Reuters) – France looked set to crown Francois Hollande as its first Socialist president in nearly two decades in an election on Sunday, marking a shift to the left at the heart of Europe and heralding a fight back against German-led austerity.

Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, swamped by anger at a surge in unemployment during his five-year term, faced being the 11th euro zone leader to be swept from power by the economic crisis after final opinion polls placed Hollande between four and eight points ahead.

May 5, 2012

Hollande favourite as French prepare for Sunday vote

PARIS (Reuters) – Overseas voters cast early ballots on the eve of an election expected to make Francois Hollande France’s first Socialist leader in two decades, despite polls showing President Nicolas Sarkozy clawing back some ground.

Sunday’s election, which coincides with parliamentary polls in Greece, may prove decisive for Europe as Hollande has pledged to temper a German-led austerity drive and reorient the recession-stricken euro zone towards growth.

May 5, 2012

France readies for poll, Sarkozy closes on Hollande

PARIS (Reuters) – Campaigning ended on Saturday in France for a decisive second-round presidential vote expected to crown Francois Hollande the country’s first Socialist leader in two decades despite polls showing President Nicolas Sarkozy clawing back some ground.

Sunday’s election, which coincides with parliamentary polls in Greece, may prove decisive for the direction of Europe as Hollande has promised he will try to temper a German-led austerity drive across Europe and reorientate the recession-struck euro zone towards growth.

May 4, 2012

France’s Sarkozy in vote appeal as margin narrows

PARIS (Reuters) – Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy made an impassioned final appeal to voters on Friday, saying that a Socialist victory could send France spiraling the way of Greece, as polls showed him narrowing his challenger’s lead two days before the vote.

Final opinion polls put Francois Hollande’s advantage at as little as four points. But Sarkozy faced an uphill battle after Hollande turned in a polished performance in their only television debate on Wednesday, and far-right and centrist leaders declined to back the unpopular president.

May 3, 2012

Sarkozy courts far-right but fails to floor Hollande

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a last-ditch appeal to far-right voters on Thursday, saying they could be decisive in Sunday’s election runoff, after he failed to land a knockout blow in a debate with Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande.

Wednesday’s three-hour televised duel, watched by 17.8 million people out of an electorate of 44.5 million, was billed as Sarkozy’s last opportunity to overturn a poll deficit of six to 10 points, drawing on his skills as an aggressive debater.

May 3, 2012

Sarkozy fails to floor Hollande in French vote duel

PARIS, May 3 (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy
made a last-ditch appeal to far-right voters on Thursday after
failing to land a knockout blow in a heated televised debate
with Socialist rival Francois Hollande before Sunday’s decisive
runoff.

Hollande, ahead in opinion polls by six to 10 points, was
calm and unflappable during the nearly three-hour debate on
Wednesday while the conservative Sarkozy, struggling to catch up
with the moderate social democrat, was often agitated and tense.

May 2, 2012

Sarkozy, Hollande go head to head in TV debate

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist rival Francois Hollande were set to clash in their only television debate on Wednesday seen as the conservative incumbent’s last chance to turn the odds of re-election in his favour.

Trailing Hollande in opinion polls for Sunday’s decisive runoff despite an aggressive campaign and a lurch to the right to appeal to far-right votes, Sarkozy billed the prime-time debate as the “moment of truth” in the race.

May 2, 2012

France’s Sarkozy approaches TV debate as “challenger”

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy will go into a televised election debate against Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande as a “challenger” as he battles to avoid defeat in Sunday’s runoff poll, a senior aide said.

The conservative president and his centre-left rival have been at each other’s throats for months, with Sarkozy accusing Hollande of being incompetent and a liar, and Hollande calling the incumbent a “failed president” and “a nasty piece of work”.

May 2, 2012

Germanophile tipped as French PM if Hollande wins

PARIS (Reuters) – Jean-Marc Ayrault, the German-speaking leader of the French Socialists’ parliamentary group, has emerged as frontrunner to become prime minister if party candidate Francois Hollande wins Sunday’s presidential election runoff.

Ayrault, a former German teacher and long-time Hollande ally known for his pragmatic approach, has seen his fortunes rise in recent weeks over those of Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry, more of an old-school leftist.