Embattled Sarkozy loses steam ahead of Sunday's vote

18th April 2012, Comments 16 comments

Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign appeared to lose steam Wednesday, four days ahead of the first round of France's presidential election that pollsters increasingly say he will lose to his Socialist rival.

Abandoned by some allies and rounded on by some traditionally pro-government media, a visibly tired but still campaigning Sarkozy said on Wednesday "we're three days away from the first round, let's wait peacefully."

He dismissed a CSA opinion poll ahead of Sunday's first round vote that said Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande would score a thumping first-round victory over the UMP party's incumbent with 29 percent to 24 percent.

"It contradicts all the others, because they say I'll win. We have three days to wait, let's wait peacefully," Sarkozy told BFM-TV of the poll that also predicted a spectacular 58-42 percent second-round victory for Hollande.

French media noted Sarkozy's fatalism, with the left-leaning Liberation daily saying he was "overplaying his serenity" by visiting a sea rescue naval yard while "the morale of his troops has been taking on water for days."

"The theme is sea rescue," noted a journalist during Tuesday's visit in northwestern region Brittany, a traditional Socialist bastion. "Does a candidate need saving?"

Sarkozy drily remarked on the wit of the naval-themed question -- saying "Exceptional. Such talent" -- but refused to answer.

Even the pro-government Le Figaro daily described Sarkozy as "detached and relaxed" during his Brittany trip, with the right-winger to attend another rally in northern Socialist bastion Arras later Wednesday.

Le Figaro put the his losses in opinion polls down to an "apparent hesitation" between more right-wing or centrist strategies that had benefited centrist candidate Francois Bayrou and the far-right's Marine Le Pen.

In an unusual departure from its editorial line, Le Figaro said Sarkozy kept repeating that "there will be surprises" in the vote "like a mantra" and that in Brittany, his "heart wasn't really in it."

Opinion polls in March put security-conscious Sarkozy briefly ahead of Hollande after Mohamed Merah's Al-Qaeda-inspired killing spree in and around southern city Toulouse, but since then Hollande has pulled back in front.

An aide to Sarkozy told Liberation: "We absolutely have to come out ahead in the first round, or it's going to be impossible."

The latest poll from BVA, published Wednesday, said Hollande would beat Sarkozy in the first round on Sunday 29.5 percent to 27.5 and again in the May 6 second round 56 percent to 44 percent, a wide margin of victory.

The poll also said far-right candidate Le Pen would win 14 percent of votes, the Left Front's Jean-Luc Melenchon 13 percent and centrist candidate Bayrou 12 percent.

Such a result would make this the first French presidential election in which five candidates win over 10 percent of votes in the first round, an expression of voter dissatisfaction with the Socialist-UMP binary.

"This shows both the big difficulty in breaking the two-party system and that a lot of people aren't happy with this two-party system and that they want other options," said Bruno Jeanbart of polling company OpinionWay.

Several former Sarkozy allies on Tuesday said they would vote for Hollande, including former junior minister for urban planning, Fadela Amara, Sarkozy's former high commissioner for youth Martin Hirsch and Brigitte Girardin, a former minister under president Jacques Chirac.

Nevertheless, UMP senator and former minister Chantal Jouanno tweeted that she would vote for Sarkozy despite "personal reasons to be against him".

"I will vote for him because he is the only one to dare... confront France's problems," she said.

© 2012 AFP

16 Comments To This Article

  • Jeff posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 14:44:57 - Reply

    Elect a Socialist at your own peril, France. Looking at this from the U.S., Sarkozy is a bit of a d1ck but get an idiot in that knows nothing but caving to the unions and spending money (like Obama), and you might as well just learn Greek because you will go down with them, and there goes the EU. The only survivors will be those countries in the north.
  • PATRIOTGRUNT posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 14:28:50 - Reply

    The French sheeple will get what they deserve. Free everything They will Tax the hell out of the Evil rich and the Dastardly Bankers.They will distribute the wealth fairly and live happily ever after. Yes , and they will join Grece as a shining Utopia that is SOCIALISM.
  • kestrel27 posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 13:19:10 - Reply

    Like Americans, every so many years the French turn insane and elect leftist idiots to power. After they come to their senses and realize what a stupid mistake they have made, they return the normal adults to power. Unfornately, just like in America, the French get all their news from leftist news sources attacking anything normal, so they repeat the above mentioned insanity. Liberalism=socialism=communism=insanity.
  • Bogie posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 07:28:31 - Reply

    D- Nuclear power is the cheapest and cleanest power source on earth. The French are the only ones who get it. And, the ill-informed environmentalists are killing it. Go figure. Coal has 20 times more radiation than nuclear. Where did you study physics? With the U. S. Sierra Club?
  • MaDdD dOgGg posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 06:09:12 - Reply

    The frogs will get what they deserve when they vote the Socialists back in, as will the US if they re-elect the one they have now.
  • Jerry Frey posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 05:19:02 - Reply

    Decide for yourself.

  • scotty posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 04:20:39 - Reply

    Exactly- France should elect people who tax and spend more and do away with nuclear energy. France was gone long ago- the brain is dead only a few twitches left in the body France.
  • SteveB posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 03:40:48 - Reply

    Elect a Socialist. Great solution. Same people would spray gasoline to try to douse a fire.
  • liz48 posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 03:20:40 - Reply

    you don't mess with Israel - it is not people but the God Who has promised to never leave them even if He chastises them...
  • Dennis D posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 02:06:56 - Reply

    France wants to copy Greece and Spain. Go for it,
  • D posted:

    on 19th April 2012, 00:13:42 - Reply

    France is becoming anti-nuclear and Sarkozy is behind the times as pro-nuclear.

    Hollande wants to lessen France's dependence on nuclear energy.

    That's a good thing because nuclear energy is filthy and polluting and dangerous.
  • kit posted:

    on 18th April 2012, 23:52:47 - Reply

    My question is would the communist and national socialist be able to form an alliance based on populist ideals? I cannot see La Pen supporting Sarkozy, but equally I cannot see the communists take a back seat to a traditional socialist although Hollande seems like a firebrand, who might be able to attract both communist and national socialist with his populist agenda. The bankers must be quivering and packing their bags about now.

    This seems as if it might be the start of a popular uprising which will spread to most of Europe in short order. However, I am certainly no expert and we will see week or so how this shapes up.
  • J posted:

    on 18th April 2012, 20:23:27 - Reply

    Alex, the only stooge is you. Actually you are worse. You are an ill-informed, conspiracy theorist loser. Sarkozy notably criticized Netanyahu. Why don't you join your friends in central America who are running away from reality. Other options include a visit to a psychiatrist. I'm sure Dr. Paul would support this
  • George posted:

    on 18th April 2012, 19:24:50 - Reply

    What surprises me is the notion that the Socialists can be effective in turning the financial system around. The problems are currently because of more socialist policies to begin with. Simply raising taxes and increasing spending (the typical answer to everything from the socialists) isn't going to fix this and will simply make the situation worse. I am simply bewildered how the people of France can believe that more socialism will repair the damage caused by too much socialism.
  • Hiram Davis posted:

    on 18th April 2012, 19:01:23 - Reply

    Hopefully his obvious love affair with our pretend president has something to do with it. That and the picture of him riding a bike.
  • Alex posted:

    on 18th April 2012, 18:19:15 - Reply

    Zioni$t stooge Sarkozy, yet another violation of our rights. The gov’t constantly violates our rights.
    They violate the 1st Amendment by caging protesters and banning books like “America Deceived II”.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by allowing TSA to grope you.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars.
    Impeach Obama, support Ron Paul.
    Last link of “America Deceived II” before it is completely banned: