It’s been a while since I’ve posted much about France’s upcoming presidential election, and in large part that’s because the past week has been somewhat subdued in the wake of the Toulouse shooting.
But there are three weeks left until the first round and almost five weeks left until the runoff, with a parliamentary election to follow a month thereafter.
So where is the race headed?
Nicolas Sarkozy has shown he is leagues ahead of his competitors in terms of raw political talent. He can move from European statesman to right-wing demagogue and back to statesman with dexterity. One moment, he’s the sober-minded man of the hour to stabilize Europe, the next he’s arguing to halve immigration, the next he’s assuming the mantle of counter-terroist-in-chief (never mind that he presided over an administration that knew about, and failed to apprehend, the Toulouse killer prior to his deadly shooting sprees).
The past month of the campaign has not been flawless for Sarkozy, but there’s a sense that the momentum has switched from frontrunner François Hollande to Sarkozy — if not necessarily in support, then certainly in setting the campaign’s narrative.
Hollande’s strategy — to show up as the most credible ‘non-Sarkozy’ and riding his polling lead into the Elysée — is looking ever more precarious. His cautious approach has left a space for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose fiery rhetoric has galvanized France’s left.
As such, a once formidable first-round lead has been reduced to a dead heat (at best). Certainly, Hollande still leads polls for the second round, but if you add together the share of the vote currently going to Sarkozy, François Bayrou and Marine Le Pen, it’s not difficult to foresee Hollande losing his second-round lead as well. Continue reading France’s election — three weeks to go