PARIS (Reuters) – Voters angry over unemployment and economic gloom turned out in large numbers on Sunday in the first round of a presidential election that could make conservative Nicolas Sarkozy the first French leader to miss re-election in more than 30 years.
In a contest driven as much by a dislike of his showy style as by policy differences, Sarkozy and Socialist rival Francois Hollande are poised to edge out eight other candidates to reach a May 6 runoff, where polls give Hollande a double-digit lead.
PARIS, April 21 (Reuters) – French voters voiced
disillusionment on Saturday at a campaign that many said ignored
the country’s real problems, on the eve of a first-round vote
expected to send President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist rival
Francois Hollande to a runoff next month.
A day ahead of voting in mainland France, the first ballots
were cast in overseas territories, from French Guiana on the
northern shores of South America to the Pacific islands of
PARIS, April 21 (Reuters) – France’s presidential candidates
observed a one-day truce on Saturday on the eve of a first-round
vote expected to send President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist
challenger Francois Hollande through to next month’s runoff.
Final polls before a mandatory media blackout on campaigning
from midnight on Friday showed Hollande narrowly ahead of the
conservative leader for Sunday’s first-round vote but the
comfortable winner of the second round on May 6.
PARIS (Reuters) – Hard-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon said on Friday that France should draw inspiration from Latin America’s left-wing revolutions and nationalize oil giant Total (TOTF.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), as Argentina is doing with energy firm YPF (REP.MC: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).
Melenchon, whose surge in support to challenge for third place has been the main surprise in the campaign, told a news conference ahead of Sunday’s first round of voting that IMF-imposed austerity was pushing Europe deeper into crisis and causing intolerable poverty, just as it had in Latin America.
PARIS (Reuters) – The European Central Bank should be more active in supporting economic growth in the euro zone and should allow the single currency to weaken against the dollar to boost the bloc’s exports, a top aide to France’s presidential frontrunner said.
Jerome Cahuzac, a Socialist member of parliament and a senior advisor to candidate Francois Hollande on budgetary matters, said a more pro-growth approach did not imply rewriting the mandate of the central bank, which requires it to guarantee price stability.
PARIS (Reuters) – The “Friends of Syria” coalition meeting in Paris on Thursday called a U.N.-backed peace plan the “last hope” to resolve the crisis and said they would do all they could to help it succeed, according to draft conclusions obtained by Reuters.
“Every day that passes means dozens of new Syrian civilian deaths,” the French-language statement said as French officials hosted senior diplomats from a dozen or so like-minded governments. “It is not time to prevaricate. It is time to act.”
PARIS, April 19 (Reuters) – France said on Thursday a
U.N.-backed peace mission needed to send at least 300-400
observers to Syria to succeed – higher than previous estimates -
adding foreign powers would discuss new ways to end the violence
in case the mission failed.
Damascus and the United Nations agreed on Thursday on the
terms for observers to enter the country to monitor a ceasefire,
called more than a year after the start of an uprising against
President Bashar al-Assad.
PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for aid corridors to be set up in Syria to protect opponents of Bashar al-Assad and urged major powers to show unity to persuade Russia and China to drop their support for the Syrian president.
Ahead of a foreign ministers’ meeting in Paris on Thursday, Sarkozy repeated calls to create a safe passage for relief organizations – with Syrian approval or an international mandate – to get food and medicine to about 1 million civilians caught up in the fighting.
UNITED NATIONS/PARIS, April 19 (Reuters) – Syria has not
fully withdrawn troops and heavy weapons from towns, failing to
send a “clear signal” about its commitment to peace, U.N. chief
Ban Ki-Moon said on Thursday, underlining Western fears for the
In the first progress report since the Security Council
passed a resolution on Saturday authorising the deployment of
observers, Secretary-General Ban proposed an expanded mission of
300 personnel to monitor a shaky ceasefire between forces loyal
to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters.
PARIS (Reuters) – The Socialist frontrunner in France’s presidential election would hand militant trade unions a bigger role in the economy if he wins power next month, gambling on transforming traditionally combative labor relations, aides say.
Francois Hollande, who polls suggest is on course to become the first left-wing president in nearly two decades, believes a more cooperative approach could help restore public finances and improve flagging industrial competitiveness.