2007 Presidential Election
I though I’d take a shot at handicapping the 2007 Presidential election. The campaign at present is in stealth mode. In France the campaign dynamic is much different than in other countries like the United States - there is little political advertising other than posters, the official campaign time frame is just a matter of weeks and it seems that only outsiders openly declare their candidacy more than a few months before the election.
Politicians make up for this by trying to get as much free publicity as possible to stay in the public eye. The best example is Nicolas Sarkozy, Interior Minister, who has never seen a photo opt he did not like.
- Jacques Chirac (Union for a Popular Movement - UMP) – Incumbent President, after the resounding no vote on the EU Constitutional Treaty, was written off by most commentators. The no vote many believe was against Chirac’s 10 years in power, his inability to reform France, and solve the persistent 10% unemployment rate.
- Nicolas Sarkozy (UMP) – The front-runner as of this writing. He’s leading in all the polls but in France, this means little because the voters are fickle. Sarkozy, the most media savvy of any French politician in France may lack the staying power to go all the way.
- Dominique de Villepin (UMP) – Present prime minister. His biggest handicap is that he’s the prime minister. No setting prime minister has directly achieved the presidency from that office since the 1960’s. The last setting prime minister to try for the presidency - Lionel Jospin (see below) didn’t even make it into the second round. Another strike against Villepin is he’s never once run for elective office.
- Laurent Fabius (Parti Socialistes – PS) – Although Fabius isn’t the official PS leader, he leads in voters loyalty. Fabius headed the fight in the victorious no campaign against the EU Constitutional Treaty. He campaigned against the PS, which supported the yes vote. It remains to be seen if the PS will support Fabius. Failing the party backing, it wouldn’t surprise me if Fabius founded his own.
- Dominique Strauss-Kahn (PS) – Recently placed his name in the ring and announced he wants the PS nomination in 2007. Presently he is a senator, often on TV advocating the PS party line.
- Jack Lang (PS) – PS spokesman, was in the forefront of the failed yes campaign for the PS. The latest poll has him in the lead in the fight for the PS nomination.
- François Hollande (PS) – The leader of the PS was able to win rank and file endorsement for the EU Constitutional Treaty; but the PS’s voters voted no at the polls, Holland’s in for the fight of his life at upcoming PS congress.
- Lionel Jospin (PS) – One of the most popular politician on the left; the only problem he’s not in politics anymore. In the last presidential election Jospin, then the prime minister received a disappointing third place finish in the first round of voting. This embarrassment sent him into early retirement. Some believe he is making a come back, he’s still involved in PS activities and those he put place (Hollande for one) still control the PS – for now.
- François Bayrou (Union pour la démocratie française - United for French Democracy UDF) – Leader of the center right UDF recently moved his party away from the UMP by refusing to be in the newly formed de Villepin government. It’s unclear if this is election posturing or distancing oneself an unpopular government.
- Jean-Marie Le Pen (Front national – National Front) – Sent France into shockwaves with his second place showing in the 2002 presidential election. The far right Le Pen played the spoiler in the last three presidential elections and loved every minute of it. His chance of being president is like believing the French will stop eating cheese. Winning doesn’t seem important to Le Pen. His only goal seems to be advocating his far right polices: expelling immigrants as a solution to France’s unemployment problem, for example.
- Arlette Laguiller (Lutte ouvrière – Workers Struggle – LO) – Has been running for president since 1974. She made a strong showing in 2002 but might have alienated many by not endorsing Jacques Chirac, in his showdown with Le Pen. Laguiller was just about the only politician, to not call on voters to vote against Le Pen.
- Noël Mamère (Les Verts – Greens) – Former TV newscaster received just over five percent in the 2002 presidential election. He has no chance of winning but that’s not his goal, Mamere goal is to build his party.
- Olivier Besancenot (Ligue communiste révolutionnaire – Communist Revolutionary League – LCR) – Affectionately called France’s ‘homme des lettres’ he’s a postman; Besancenot is a bomb thrower of the first degree. He (with Marie-Georges Buffet) led the far left in its fight against the EU Constitutional Treaty. He tied globalization and the spread of free markets with the threat of the French losing their beloved social system and public services.
- Marie-Georges Buffet (Parti communiste français – PC) – She Led her party from the political basement in 2002. The CP’s candidate received the lowest percentage every in a presidential election, to the penthouse of 2005. When she along with Besancenot lead charge of the no campaign against the EU Constitutional Treaty. It remains to be seen if this will lead to a better showing in 2007.
Anyone looking for information about living in France should check out the ‘US Guys’ column in the French News. American expat Clair Whitmer, presently living in Brittany, writes the column. By the way the French News is the best English language newspaper I’ve read in France. Each monthly edition is full of tidbits of news and info about living in France with a very informative letter section.
Thanks to everyone who joined my Live in France group. The response set a new members weekly record.