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Au revoir Nicolas?

It looks like French president, Nicolas Sarkosy, is going to be looking for a new job - deservedly!    If he loses the upcoming presidential election - which all the pundits say he will - he will be the first president since 1981 to not have secured a second term of office.   Goodnight Nicolas and Carla.....

"We shall need to know two things about the outcome of the French presidential election rather than one. Who has won, and a further question – what do financial markets think of the result? The French know that there is this second judgement to come and many resent it. It arises because, as Nicolas Sarkozy's Prime Minister, François Fillon, said recently, "if the left puts the European treaty in doubt on the day after François Hollande is elected, at that point speculation against the euro would take off again, except that this time there would be nobody to prevent it".

From The Guardian:

"One of the central paradoxes of life in France is that for all the French preen themselves as the most civilised nation on Earth, they are also quickly prone to collapse into self-lacerating fits of low self-esteem. They even have a term for this syndrome: they call it le malaise français. It's actually quite hard to translate this, but it roughly means "unease in France". The symptoms usually appear in the run-up to an important election and are always the same: lots of television debates and magazine articles about the general unhappiness of the nation and public handwringing over whether France still matters to the world. Politicians join in to try to offer solutions. Nobody really believes them. Unsurprisingly, little has changed this year, as the country gears up for the last week before the presidential elections.

Indeed, the defining mood of the elections so far is boredom. That is not to say politics is not important here. Quite the contrary, in fact: the DSK affair, the intervention in Libya and the rising tide of suicides prompted by unemployment have all held the nation transfixed in the past few months. In recent weeks, the savage killings of North African soldiers and a Jewish father and schoolchildren in Toulouse by an Islamist fanatic of French nationality and Algerian background have thrown the country into trauma, evoking repressed memories of French colonial history and antisemitism.

There are also huge issues at stake in these elections. For one thing, the French economy is heading for a massive crisis. Nicolas Sarkozy's proposed solution here is protectionism and attacks on French tax exiles, while the leading opposition contender, François Hollande, has promised a massive expansion of the state, a rise in the pension age and a potentially devastating 75% tax on the rich. Neither side has convinced the electorate these are real solutions rather than wishful thinking.Meanwhile, the killings in Toulouse have brought security and Islamism to the top of the agenda. Inevitably, strident voices on the far left and the far right are calling respectively for more state control or clampdowns on immigrants, but the truth is, the nearer we get to the elections, no one in the French political classes seems to know what to do with France."

"Mr. Sarkozy is in deep trouble and is looking, for now, as if he could be the first one-term French president since 1981. He appears to be running neck and neck with his main challenger, the Socialist candidate François Hollande, in the first round of voting on Sunday, when 10 candidates are competing. But all the opinion polls show Mr. Sarkozy losing to Mr. Hollande in a face-off two weeks later.

His possible defeat carries implications that would radiate far beyond Paris. Mr. Sarkozy has had contentious but valuable relationships with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, a fellow conservative, on European and euro zone issues; with the British on defense issues, including the Libyan war; and with President Obama on issues involving Iran and Israel, NATO and Russia.

A victory by even a centrist Socialist like Mr. Hollande, who has advocated higher taxes on the rich and a greater emphasis on growth over austerity, would create immediate strains with Germany and rattle financial markets that are already nervous about the size of France’s debt. Mr. Hollande has also said that he wants to pull French troops out of Afghanistan sooner than NATO has agreed to do. Still, he says that his first visit abroad would be to Berlin, no matter how chilly the reception."



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