Analysis: The anti-Sarkozy wall (JERUSALEM POST) By JOSEPH STRICH/JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 04/16/12)
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PARIS – On June 6, 1944, the Germans were convinced that “the
Atlantic Wall” they constructed on the sea, from Northern Europe to
the Iberian Peninsula, was impassable. Nevertheless, General Dwight
D. Eisenhower’s allied troops landed at dawn on the Normandy beaches,
broke through and started a swift campaign, reaching all the way to
Berlin within months.
The question asked now less and less within the French political
classes is: Will Sarkozy’s UMP troops, comprising the right-wing
party in power, be able to break through the concrete wall positioned
in front of their presidential candidate? In Paris and elsewhere in
France, people think the contest is already lost for Sarkozy, who won
the election in 2007.
In the first days and weeks following the Toulouse Affair, opinion
polls were looking up for the right-wing candidate, who for a year
ranked low in polls. And for the first time since he started his
campaign in mid-February (too little too late?), newspaper headlines
read “The unbelievable comeback,” and “Help! Sarko is back!”).
But his short-lived rise came to a halt, and one week before the
April 22 elections, his situation is more hopeless than ever.
After wondering whether the Toulouse shootings in March would save
Sarkozy in his campaign, the answer is now decidedly no, according to
recent media polls. The attacks did not modify the dynamic of the
presidential campaign, neither did the anti- Islamic raids carried
out in several towns in France targeting extremists soon after the
Still, for the first round, Sarkozy finds himself with between 26 and
30 percent support in the polls, leading his Socialist rival François
Hollande, Social-Communist Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen from
the extreme right-wing National Front each with 15%, and François
Bayrou from the center with 10%.
But for the second and final round, the gap is only widening between
Hollande and Sarkozy though, because although the French public cares
about issues of national security, the vast majority are more worried
about employment and their purchasing power.
While the voters are becoming increasingly disappointed with the
socialist candidate’s low key approach, the voting swing is not
benefitting Sarkozy, rather it seems to be helping Mélenchon, who is
dramatically outspoken, with his call on posters throughout
Paris: “Take the power.”
To counteract the rise in Mélenchon’s image and standing with voters,
Hollande is calling for “a realistic vote” in the first round.
Sarkozy is also worried about abstentions, “the true risk,” according
to newspaper Le Parisien. The daily paper asks: “Is there any hiding
vote for Sarkozy?” among the abstentions, but after consideration
backed up with some voting calculations the paper gave a negative
In reality it is the relative weakness of Mélenchon and Eva Joly of
the Green Party, that will benefit the Socialist camp in the second
round. Le Pen, to whom Sarkozy’s right-wing offensive caused
considerable damage, will not tell her supporters whom to vote for.
In the second round of voting, most likely on May 6, at most, only
50% of her votes will go to the UMP candidate, whereas it is likely
that nearly 80% of “the Left of the Left” (the Left Front and other
small left-wing parties) will go to Hollande.
For those who do not believe in opinion polls and to reduce the
statistical margin of error, Le Parisien asked the BVA Institute to
conduct a survey of 2,807 people, three times more than the number
used in a classic voter poll. The conclusion from this larger slice
of opinion is striking: “A Wall stands in front of the outgoing
president. He would in fact be beaten by François Hollande on May 6,”
the poll concludes, predicting that Sarkozy would receive 44% of
votes and Hollande 56%.
“This is due to the nearly perfect transfer of votes, which benefits
Hollande,” explained Gaël Sliman, director of the BVA opinion polls.
Indeed, it is now a year since the opinion polls predicted Sarkozy’s
loss. Although the gap did get smaller at one point, it is now
getting wider. Sarkozy was betting on a swift campaign to reverse
this trend but now finds himself neck and neck with Hollande in the
race for the first round.
However, the slight fall for Hollande, which benefits Mélenchon in
the first round will make this adversary of the first round a back up
reinforcement in the second.
Even if a solid number of voters are transferred to Sarkozy, this
would not necessarily insure his reelection, but should it happen
against all odds, it would be a staggering defeat for the pollsters.
Trying desperately to bring back to her camp the 2007 voters,
Nathalie Koscisuco-Morizet, Sarkozy’s spokeswoman, called
dramatically for a mega-meeting at Place de la Concorde in Paris
yesterday, expecting thousands of supporters belonging to the “silent
majority” to stand up and say “no to the media system.”
According to Sarkozy’s supporters, Hollande, who at the same time
held his own huge gathering in front of the Chateau de Vincennes near
Paris, “is campaigning like it was an anti-Sarkozy referendum.” Is
this an exaggeration? Not at all, says the president.
“We cannot keep silent on everything, crisis and security,” Sarkozy
said in an interview with the candidates last week. “It is my duty as
president to tell the truth... I have a different point of view from
the ‘Financial Times,’ the Anglo-Saxon thinking of no economical
barrier... You want the Left? You will have Greece and Spain.”
The president’s final meeting, held in the mythical La Concorde,
close to his residence at the Elysee Palace and under the famous
Obelisque, and where the most tragic events in France’s history
occured and where general Charles De Gaulle used to give his
Sarkozy referred to De Gaulle and other French historical figures in
his speech, such as Victor Hugo, Emile Zola and Napoleon Bonaparte in
an effort to summon “the people of France.” He called to the
crowd: “Hear me! Frenchwomen and frenchmen, help me! Viva la France!
Viva la Republique!” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/16/12)
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