Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sarkozy heads to Réunion


It is only fitting that while my town is being paralyzed by a snow storm, UMP candidate Nicolas Sarkozy is traveling to the tropical French island off the coast of Madagascar, Réunion.

Sarkozy is visiting Réunion as both French Interior Minister and as the UMP presidential candidate, although it won't be too difficult to see where his priorities lie. Réunion voted 39% for socialist candidate Lionel Jospin in the last presidential election, beating the 37.2% won by current president Jacques Chirac. Sarkozy is also behind some of his rivals; Segolene Royal visited the island in October, and UDF candidate Francois Bayrou came just this past December. With a close election in this year's assumed Sego-Sarko runoff, Sarkozy will need all of Réunion's 470,000 votes he can get.

The trip itself shouldn't be too interesting, a mixture of meetings with local leaders, visits to local businesses and research facilities, and a ceremony for good measure. If you check the top right corner you'll notice that although the polls are now registering a slight bounce for Royal after her policy speech this past Sunday, Sarkozy is still several points above 50%. With such close numbers it doubtful that Sarkozy will take many policy risks, and will likely move more towards the center as the weeks go by. Royal will be attempting to avoid any more damaging mistakes, so any long-delayed trip to the United States for her is probably unthinkable at the moment.

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