Sarkozy's Last Stand?May 6, 2012
It is unlikely Nicolas Sarkozy will be reelected president of France on May 6. Francois Hollande, leader of the Parti Socialiste, won the first round of voting on April 22. He is the third socialist candidate to win the first round of voting in France’s history after Jospin (1995) and Mitterand (1988). The success of the socialist candidate has raised doubts as to whether Sarkozy can garner the last minute support he needs to win, says Adriano Marchese of Geopoliticalmonitor.com.
The general mood of the electorate in 2012 is significantly different than it was in 2007—both in France and Europe. National unemployment levels are at their highest in over a decade at 10 percent, rising 2 points since 2007. Public debt has increased from 66 percent of GDP to close to 89 percent today—not quite at the astronomical levels of Greece or Italy but still worrisome. The economic uncertainty in Europe only exacerbates French concerns at home. To avoid widespread austerity measures, the French are now willing to compromise prosperity for economic security. Nationalist platforms that promote ‘tending one’s own garden’ have therefore been popular this election.
The elections will also decide France’s position towards the European Union. France has the second largest economy in Europe after Germany. Their economies have been the backbone of Europe’s financial stability. Over his presidential term, Sarkozy built and maintained a close relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They have kept Europe away from the brink of complete collapse through implementation of rigorous austerity measures on lagging EU member states.