Opinion

Paul Taylor

Sarkozy fails to down Hollande in French vote duel

Paul Taylor
May 2, 2012 23:18 UTC

PARIS, May 3 (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy
and Socialist Francois Hollande clashed repeatedly in their only
television debate but the conservative incumbent failed to land
a knockout blow to shake his challenger’s lead for Sunday’s
runoff.

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

Political commentators said the confrontation was no
game-changer and probably only reinforced voters’ opinions of
their two champions in a contest that has been as much about
style and personality as substance.

“This debate should not shift things and as Francois
Hollande is in the position of favourite, he’s the one that
should benefit,” said analyst Jerome Fourquet at pollster Ifop.

French television commentators concluded that Sarkozy had
performed “like a boxer” and Hollande “like a judo fighter”,
using touches of wit and interjections to unbalance his
adversary.

Sarkozy, Hollande trade barbs in TV debate

Paul Taylor
May 2, 2012 21:26 UTC

PARIS, May 2 (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy
and Socialist challenger Francois Hollande clashed repeatedly in
their only televised debate on Wednesday, wi th the co nservative
incumbent so unding angry and on the defensive fo ur days before
the vote.

Trailing Hollande in opinion polls by six to 10 points
before Sunday’s decisive runoff despite an energetic campaign
and a lurch to the right to appeal to far-right voters, Sarkozy
said he wanted the prime-time debate to be a “moment of truth”.

Hollande was more confident and relaxed in the early
exchanges, saying he aimed to be “the president of justice”,
“the president of revival” and “the president of unity”.

French will resist reform till things get worse

Paul Taylor
Apr 30, 2012 09:49 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” General Charles de Gaulle famously asked.

His distant successor as president of France, who will be elected on Sunday for five years, faces the same puzzle of how to reform a perennially rebellious nation to meet the economic challenges of the 21st century.

Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy set out with great energy in 2007 to shake things up but ran out of steam after loosening the 35-hour work week and raising the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 in the face of massive resistance.

Analysis: French will resist reform till things get worse

Paul Taylor
Apr 30, 2012 06:07 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” General Charles de Gaulle famously asked.

His distant successor as president of France, who will be elected on Sunday for five years, faces the same puzzle of how to reform a perennially rebellious nation to meet the economic challenges of the 21st century.

Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy set out with great energy in 2007 to shake things up but ran out of steam after loosening the 35-hour work week and raising the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 in the face of massive resistance.

Analysis: France’s Hollande plays president, Sarkozy insurgent

Paul Taylor
Apr 26, 2012 13:29 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – To watch them perform, you would think Francois Hollande was already France’s president and Nicolas Sarkozy was an insurgent frantically battling to dislodge him.

Conventional roles have been reversed in the final 10 days of a marathon election campaign in Europe’s number two economy, a nuclear power and U.N. Security Council member – greatly to the benefit of Hollande, the Socialist challenger.

The conservative Sarkozy, a hyperactive player on the global and European stage for the last five years, is racing around the country frenetically, cajoling far-right voters and escalating a negative campaign against his Socialist opponent.

Populist surge threatens euro zone consensus

Paul Taylor
Apr 24, 2012 10:45 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – A surge of support for Eurosceptic, anti-immigration populists in the euro zone threatens to upend the mainstream political consensus in favour of austerity and budget discipline.

The prospect of ratifying and implementing a German-driven treaty to enforce European Union budget rules more strictly is looking less certain, just as Europe may be about to lose the dominant “Merkozy” leadership tandem that negotiated it.

Sunday’s shock French presidential election first round, in which far-right anti-euro crusader Marine Le Pen scored nearly 18 percent and anti-establishment rebels jointly secured more than a third of the vote, highlighted a wider European trend.

Analysis: Populist surge threatens euro zone consensus

Paul Taylor
Apr 23, 2012 15:57 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – A surge of support for Eurosceptic, anti-immigration populists in the euro zone threatens to upend the mainstream political consensus in favor of austerity and budget discipline.

The prospect of ratifying and implementing a German-driven treaty to enforce European Union budget rules more strictly is looking less certain, just as Europe may be about to lose the dominant “Merkozy” leadership tandem that negotiated it.

Sunday’s shock French presidential election first round, in which far-right anti-euro crusader Marine Le Pen scored nearly 18 percent and anti-establishment rebels jointly secured more than a third of the vote, highlighted a wider European trend.

Le Pen voters to arbitrate Hollande-Sarkozy duel

Paul Taylor
Apr 23, 2012 00:41 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Far-right voters may decide who becomes France’s next president after anti-immigration crusader Marine Le Pen’s record first-round score jolted the race between Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

The centre-left Hollande narrowly beat the conservative Sarkozy in Sunday’s 10-candidate first round by 28.6 percent to 27.1 percent, the Interior Ministry said with 99 percent of votes counted, but Le Pen stole the show by surging to 18.0 percent, the biggest result for a far-right candidate.

Her breakthrough mirrored advances by anti-establishment Euroskeptical populists from Amsterdam and Vienna to Helsinki and Athens as anger over austerity, unemployment and bailout fatigue deepen due to the euro zone’s grinding debt crisis.

Hollande edges Sarkozy in French vote, Le Pen surges

Paul Taylor
Apr 22, 2012 21:27 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Far-rightist Marine Le Pen threw France’s presidential race wide open on Sunday by polling nearly 19 percent in the first round – votes that may tip a runoff between Socialist favorite Francois Hollande and conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Hollande led Sarkozy by 28.2 percent to 27.0 percent with more than four fifths of votes counted, the Interior Ministry said, meaning the two will meet head-to-head in a decider on May 6 that may be closer than pundits had been expected.

Le Pen’s record score of 18.6 percent was the sensation of the night, beating her father’s 2002 result and outpolling hard leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon in fourth place on 10.9 percent. Centrist Francois Bayrou finished fifth on 9.2 percent.

Sarkozy’s last best hopes to get off the ropes

Paul Taylor
Apr 19, 2012 08:28 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Behind on points, conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s last best hopes of re-election are landing a knockout punch in the sole television debate or an eleventh-hour alliance with a popular centrist.

No president in French history has come back to win after trailing as far behind his opponent in the opinion polls as Sarkozy does now to Socialist challenger Francois Hollande, political scientist Dominique Reynie said.

But veteran analysts are not writing him off just yet.

“It’s hard to see what could reverse the trend, but there are a few elements,” said Pascal Perrineau, director of the Centre for the Study of French Political Life (CEVIPOF) at the Sciences-Po school in Paris, citing lingering doubts among voters about whether Hollande has the stature and the national security credentials to be president.

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