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Sarkozy's hope for second term remains uncertain: expert

04-26-2012 08:57 BJT Special Report:2012 French Presidential Election |

PARIS, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Incumbent French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who trails behind Socialist candidate Francois Hollande after Sunday's first-round presidential elections, will struggle to get reelected, a French political expert told Xinhua in a recent interview.

A survey conducted by OpinionWay-Fiducial for Radio Classic and Les Echos earlier this week predicted that Hollande would win the finale with 54 percent of votes, a result corroborating what polls said before the first round.

"Hollande boasts the solid backing of the left block at 44 percent," said Dominique Reynie, professor at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, alluding to how the mild-mannered politician winning has won the support of Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon and the Greens' Eva Joly.

Another advantage for Hollande is the "no-more-Sarkozy" sentiment among the public, a result of the incumbent's perceived harsh policies, his aggressive personality and "bling" lifestyle.

Still, Reynie pointed out that Hollande can appeal to centrist Francois Bayrou's voters, as well as to those who backed the hard-leftist Melenchon to secure a majority in the decisive May round of elections.

Given the wide ideological spectrum between Bayrou's MoDem and Melenchon's Left Front, Hollande has managed to strike a balance by purporting the "rejection of Sarkozy," a tactic which has proved quite successful so far, said Reynie.

Unlike Hollande, Sarkozy has no one to "reject". His reiterating Hollande's lack of experience may come across a manipulative to voters and does not help his cause much, Reynie noted.

"This is an argument I consider clumsy and probably also annoying for voters who may feel they are told 'You cannot vote for him because he is not a real president.' It is up to the people to choose," he said.

Therefore, Sarkozy's only options are to attract as much support as possible from the centrists and Marine Le Pen's far-rightists in the coming campaigns, Reynie felt.

Opinion polls on Sunday showed between 48 and 60 percent of Le Pen voters planned to back Sarkozy, while centrist Bayrou's supporters were split almost evenly between the two finalists with a third undecided.

Sarkozy cannot be completely written off in the elections, but the battle ahead is indeed a fierce one, said the expert.

According to Reynie's calculations, Sarkozy needs 60 percent of Le Pen's voters to vote for him and over 40 percent of Bayrou's. This is assuming Hollande will garner no more than 30 percent of Bayrou's votes.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy must mobilize voters who abstained in the first round to vote for him instead of Hollande in the second round, Reynie added.

Whoever the next occupant of the Elysee Palace, "France will change", said Reynie, asked about the country's future.

"The weight of the realities and constraints, financial and economic power will force whoever, right or left, Sarkozy or Hollande, to make decisions necessary but unpleasant to deal with the crisis, especially financially."

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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