Opinion

Paul Taylor

Analysis: Sarkozy’s last best hopes to get off the ropes

Paul Taylor
Apr 19, 2012 08:06 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.

Surveys show the conservative head of state is battling deep personal unpopularity on top of the handicaps of incumbency in an economic crisis that has seen off the leaders of 14 of the European Union’s 27 countries in the last three years.

“This is at least as much a referendum on Nicolas Sarkozy as a vote in confidence in Francois Hollande,” said Reynie, director of the Foundation for Political Innovation.

No simple answer to EU growth vs austerity conundrum

Paul Taylor
Apr 16, 2012 09:53 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Fierce debate is growing in Europe over whether austerity or growth offers the best strategy to overcome the continent’s sovereign debt crisis. As if it were that simple.

As the euro zone hovers on the brink of its second recession in three years, the battle launched in academic journals, blogs and the financial press has spread to the hustings in France, Greece and soon in EU economic powerhouse Germany too.

“Europe can’t cut and grow,” Sony Kapoor, head of the Re-Define think-tank, and Peter Bofinger, a member of the German Council of Economic Advisers, said in an article before European Union leaders adopted a budget discipline pact last month.

Analysis – No simple answer to EU growth versus austerity conundrum

Paul Taylor
Apr 16, 2012 05:56 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Fierce debate is growing in Europe over whether austerity or growth offers the best strategy to overcome the continent’s sovereign debt crisis. As if it were that simple.

As the euro zone hovers on the brink of its second recession in three years, the battle launched in academic journals, blogs and the financial press has spread to the hustings in France, Greece and soon in EU economic powerhouse Germany too.

“Europe can’t cut and grow,” Sony Kapoor, head of the Re-Define think-tank, and Peter Bofinger, a member of the German Council of Economic Advisers, said in an article before European Union leaders adopted a budget discipline pact last month.

Analysis: No simple answer to EU growth vs. austerity conundrum

Paul Taylor
Apr 16, 2012 05:55 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Fierce debate is growing in Europe over whether austerity or growth offers the best strategy to overcome the continent’s sovereign debt crisis. As if it were that simple.

As the euro zone hovers on the brink of its second recession in three years, the battle launched in academic journals, blogs and the financial press has spread to the hustings in France, Greece and soon in EU economic powerhouse Germany too.

“Europe can’t cut and grow,” Sony Kapoor, head of the Re-Define think-tank, and Peter Bofinger, a member of the German Council of Economic Advisers, said in an article before European Union leaders adopted a budget discipline pact last month.

Look-alikes among contenders for French premiership

Paul Taylor
Apr 13, 2012 10:30 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Two of the potential candidates to be France’s next prime minister look strikingly alike, attended the same elite colleges, survived political scandals and have both previously occupied the post seen as a thankless ejector seat.

If Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande is elected president on May 6, Laurent Fabius, 65, may be in for a comeback to the premiership, which he held more than a quarter century ago from 1984 to 1986. He could also be made foreign minister.

Fabius has been in charge of Hollande’s program for his first 100 days, and the candidate told a rally in January “I’m going to need him in the future,” which many interpreted as a signal that he would have a leading role in government.

Analysis – Political realities snare Europe’s populists

Paul Taylor
Apr 12, 2012 14:20 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Europe’s economic and debt crisis has boosted populist parties in many countries, making government harder, but political realities are catching up with the angry brigade. Some have hit an electoral ceiling while others are on the way back down.

From Amsterdam to Athens, anti-establishment groups of the far right and hard left have stormed from obscurity by blaming the euro and the European Union for the crisis and rejecting either austerity or bailouts for debt-laden states.

Far-right Marine Le Pen, who advocates leaving the euro and reversing immigration, and hard leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, who rejects Europe’s budget discipline pact, are set to win nearly one-third of the votes between them in the first round of France’s presidential election on April 22.

“Atomic Anne” tries to nuke France’s Sarkozy

Paul Taylor
Apr 11, 2012 13:37 UTC

PARIS, April 11 (Reuters) – Nuclear warfare has broken out
between France’s two main political parties 11 days before the
first round of a presidential election, with a woman known as
“Atomic Anne” launching a strike on President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Anne Lauvergeon, a former top aide to Socialist President
Francois Mitterrand ousted as head of French nuclear group Areva
last year, accused Sarkozy of having tried to sell an
atomic reactor to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi until mid-2010.

“The state, which was supposed to be responsible, was
supporting this folly,” she told weekly magazine L’Express in an
interview. “Imagine, if we had done it, how it would look now.”

French firebrand Melenchon milks leftist nostalgia

Paul Taylor
Apr 10, 2012 11:35 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – He won’t win or even reach the decisive run-off, but hard left contender Jean-Luc Melenchon has ridden a wave of nostalgia for the barricades to become the star turn of France’s presidential election campaign.

Branding himself “the sound and the fury” after the William Faulkner novel of the same name, the Communist-backed former Trotskyist is shaking up the campaign with his fiery oratory and revolutionary call to arms.

Latest opinion polls show him storming into third place in voting intentions for the April 22 first round, still well behind conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Francois Hollande, but overtaking far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, his bitter rival for working class votes.

Corrected: French firebrand Melenchon milks leftist nostalgia

Paul Taylor
Apr 7, 2012 08:01 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – He won’t win or even reach the decisive run-off, but hard left contender Jean-Luc Melenchon has ridden a wave of nostalgia for the barricades to become the star turn of France’s presidential election campaign.

Branding himself “the sound and the fury” after the William Faulkner novel of the same name, the Communist-backed former Trotskyist is shaking up the campaign with his fiery oratory and revolutionary call to arms.

Latest opinion polls show him storming into third place in voting intentions for the April 22 first round, still well behind conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Francois Hollande, but overtaking far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, his bitter rival for working class votes.

Europe ponders free trade or fair trade

Paul Taylor
Apr 2, 2012 09:31 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Europe has opened a can of worms by trying to reconcile free trade with fair trade.

Under pressure from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the European Commission adopted proposals on March 21 that could shut foreign companies out of bidding for public contracts in the European Union unless their home countries provide similar access to European firms.

The EU executive, which has historically promoted free trade and opposed protectionism, insists the measure is intended as a crowbar to open lucrative government contracts in countries such as Japan, the United States and China, not to close EU markets.

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