Saturday, November 18, 2006

More hints from Chirac

In the background to Segolene Royal's victory this past week in which she promised a new era in French politics, 73 year-old President Jacques Chirac seems poised to possibly attempt another presidential run himself. Despite low approval numbers and several recent failures (read EU constitution rejection), his wife and a political advisor continue to drop hints that he may consider another election.
Although Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is the only other politician polling neck and neck against Socialist Segolene Royal in hypothetical match ups, he will first have to face PM Dominique de Villepin, Defense Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, and now potentially his current boss. This could result in a repeat of Royal's recent fight, with the UMP eventually uniting around a single candidate. However, Alliot-Marie has said that she might run outside the UMP, splitting Sarkozy's vote and possibly taking him out of contention in a runoff. In a French presidential election, if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the first round of voting, the top two candidates then face off in a second round. Somewhat oddly, this can allow for unknown or darkhorse candidates to reach the second round if the other major parties split their vote. Last election, Jean-Marie Le Pen, described as a little Nazi by a French teacher I know, made it to the second runoff against Chirac, despite his far right views. Frankly I hope Sarkozy doesn't get battered in the first round; he's been planning for this election for ages, and even the mainstream American press did an indepth profile of him as a candidate: the year of that profile, 2004.

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