Analysis: French presidential election 2012

How François Hollande hopes to beat Nicolas Sarkozy in second round of French presidentials

AFP/Patrick KOVARIK

Socialist candidate François Hollande came top in the first round of French presidential elections last night as predicted. He can now reap votes from most supporters defeated candidates far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Ecology candidate Eva Joly.

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He hopes also to gain votes from the first round supporters of the hard-left candidates who polled under two per cent.

But nothing is in the bag, and the very high score of Front National candidate Marine Le Pen poses a problem.

He will hope that many of those who voted for her were voicing a rejection of Nicolas Sarkozy and that these voters will abstain or vote Socialist in round two.

So how will he pitch his campaign over the next two weeks until the final vote on 6 May?

Emerging from a meeting with colleagues on Monday, Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry told journalists that Hollande had “only one strategy: to get France back on its feet, to put justice back at the centre of all our decisions and unite the French, in other words, to continue the same line he has held for several weeks.”

She added that “we must address all the French people in the same way,” telling those who feel “forgotten” that the answer is “within the republic.”

Hollande himself clearly states that the Front National’s impressive score is the fault of Sarkozy.
He told journalists outside his campaign headquarters, “The extreme right got a lot of votes and Nicolas Sarkozy is responsible and there are voters who made this choice out of anger, those are the ones I must listen to.”

Hollande will tell voters that Sarkozy is stoking up fear.

But he is adamant that he will not give in to Sarkozy’s call for three debates over the next two weeks, instead of the single debate that is traditional.

“That’s like bad students saying they want to change the way the exams are organised,” he mocked.

Hollande supporters will be out in force in some of the economically deprived areas on the outskirts of Paris and other big cities, where the abstention rates were significantly higher than in other parts of the country.

They hope that an Obama-style push to get voters there into polling stations on 6 May will make a difference. They aim, too, to try to boost their share of votes from young people, among whom Marine Le Pen scored relatively well, even though Hollande had said the young were a “priority” for him.
 

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