2007 French Presidential Elections
UPDATE: PARIS, May 6 -- Nicolas Sarkozy, the combative son of a Hungarian immigrant, was elected president of France, promising a new generation of leadership to transform the country, restore its self-respect and reinvigorate ties with the United States and Europe. Continue reading...
French voters on April 22, 2007, sent Nicolas Sarkozy of the ruling Union for Popular Movement Party and Socialist Ségolène Royal to the second round of voting in the presidential election. Because none of the 12 candidates received more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round, the top two contenders competed for the Elysee Palace in a runoff.
On May 6, Sarkozy defeated Royal by a 53 percent to 47 percent vote, according to final results. Voter turnout was a near-record 84 percent of 44.5 million eligible voters. The massive turnout reflected voter's fears of economic decline at home and diminishing influence abroad, and also underscored enthusiasm for the personality-driven, American-style campaigns.
Nicolas Sarkozy, 52, candidate of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement, has capitalized on deep national frustration with the political process, promising to revitalize the country through modernization and reform. Sarkozy has said that taxes are too high and that France must change its work ethic to generate new jobs and compete in the global economy. He says that if elected, he would nurture the long friendship between France and the United States, but would tell the United States when he thinks it is wrong.
Sarkozy, who stepped down as interior minister last March, won a tepid endorsement from President Jacques Chirac only after a delayed announcement that Chirac himself wouldn't seek his party's nomination. Sarkozy, who has cultivated an image as a maverick within Chirac's government, has based much of his campaign on promises to break clean with the policies of the unpopular, two-term Chirac.
|Nicolas Sarkozy(Lionel Cironneau)|
|Segolene Royal(Jean-paul Pelissier)|
François Bayrou, 55, of the Union for French Democracy, started the race polling in the single digits. But during the final weeks of the campaign, Bayrou has scaled the public opinion surveys, transforming what was a two-person presidential campaign into an unpredictable three-way sprint with the two front-runners, Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal. Bayrou, who grew up on a farm, is casting himself as the man in the middle, who can lift France out of a lingering national malaise brought on by a floundering economy and the growing fear of globalization. He says he wants to improve education, grant minorities greater opportunities, boost small businesses and strengthen France's voice in the European Union. He has also said he would include people from all major parties in his cabinet, a model that has drawn criticism from his opponents.
|Francois Bayrou(Vincent Kessler)|
|Jean-Marie Le Pen(Martin Bureau)|
Other candidates include: Olivier Besancenot of the Revolutionary Communist League, anti-globalization activist Jose Bove, Marie-George Dresser Buffet of the Communist Party, Arlette Laguiller of the Workers' Struggle, Frederic Nihous of the CPNT, Gerard Schivardi of the Workers Party, Philippe de Villiers of Movement for France and Domenica Voynet of the Green Party.
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR ISSUES?
More than a year after immigrant neighborhoods around Paris exploded in civil unrest, the suburbs have become a potent force in the presidential campaign. Immigrant citizens and their first-generation French children have registered to vote in unprecedented numbers, and have forced politicians to confront issues previously considered politically taboo: racial, ethnic and religious discrimination. Besides concerns about rising immigration, voters have expressed deep frustration with France's declining status abroad, its high unemployment and concerns about crime and globalization.
WHAT ARE THE RESULTS?
Results from the first round of voting, on April 22, showed Sarkozy winning 31 percent of the vote, and Royal receiving 26 percent, with nearly all of the ballots counted. Bayrou came in third with 18 percent of the vote, and Jean-Marie Le Pen ranked fourth with 11 percent, according to preliminary results. The remaining 17 percent was split among eight minor political groups.
The second round of voting, on May 6, gave the presidency to Sarkozy. He defeated Royal by a 53 percent to 47 percent vote, according to final results.
Compiled from staff reports by Heather Farrell