A new poll taken three days ago shows that the French trust Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy more than Socialist candidate Segolene Royal to pursue an effective economic policy (43% to 39%) and to reduce public debt (45% to 35%). Nevertheless, they put more trust in Royal to reduce unemployment (42% to 37%) and to pursue a just social policy (57% to 27%).
What does this all boil down to? The French may be unhappy with Sarkozy's blunt language and occasional insensitivity, but they are ready (or hope they are) to accept some painful reform to turn the economy around. After Villepin's employment law debacle last year that resulted in weeks of protests in the streets, it appeared that portions of the French population really was desperately afraid of change that could cause greater job insecurity in the short-term. This turnaround of opinion is good news for Sarkozy for now, but he will have to capitalize on it to get the necessary mandate if elected. If he shies away from specific proposals before election day, Sarkozy may get the jitters and pull back from real reform once in office; Villepin take two.
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