Today France is voting in the first round of presidential election to select the two candidtaes for the presidency among whom the president will be chosen on may 6th 2007. In a campaign which was full of surprise, the last straw has yet to be drawn.
Among the 12 candidates president-to-be, only four according to the polls have the possibility of being in the last two selected. The three leading candidates have tried to seduce their respective camps by using slogans such as “renewal=hope” for the Socialists' Ségolène Royal; “ambition=assertiveness” for Nicolas Sarkozy of the right-wing UMP, and “filling the gap=crossing the divide” for François Bayrou of the centrist UDF.
The fourth candidate, far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front surprisingly came second in the first round of election in 2002, ahead of Lionel Jospin (then the Socialist prime minister) by 200,000 votes. Jacques Chirac ended up beating Mr Le Pen in a second-round landslide thanks to the mobilization of the left and the right centrists in voting against Le Pen.
There is some fear that the scenario of Le Pen being in the second round may be repeated. But this time the surprise could be more plausible from François Bayrou the third in the opinion polls. French citizens find themselves somewhat psychologically squeezed by the main candidates who have advised them to think twice and vote efficently; meaning that if you do not want the 2002 scenario to be repeated, do not vote for small, extremist and/or marginal candidates. François Bayrou is branded generally as a marginal candidate, for as a right wing politician, he was expected to joint the Sarcozy team like many of his comrads of UDF who has declared supporting Nicolas Sarcozy.
Nicolas Sarkozy the right-wing frontrunner, who has remained the leading figure in opinion polls during the whole campaign, has been accused by his/her rivals of mounting secret deals with the far-right nationalist party of Jean-Marie Le Pen. His sympathy for far-right themes are definitely the weakest point of his campaign and will repulse many of those from the second and third generation immigrants.
Mr Sarkozy was Born on 28 January 1955 in Paris 17ème, from a Hungarian father and a French Jewish mother. He is a graduate in public law and political science, and is a barrister by profession. He has occupied numerous elected positions, such as the Mayor of the wealthiest town in France (Neuilly- sur-Seine), National Assembly Deputy (~Congressman), to name a few. He has also occupied different ministerial position such as Minister for the Budget in 1993, Minister of Economy in 2004, and Minister of Interior in 2005 during the riots in the suburbs of Paris, which resulted in more than a thousand cars burned.
Nicolas Sarkozy's far right tendencies find their origin in part in his frequentation of one of his long time friends namely Eric Raoult (Vice President of the French National Assembly).
In 1997 during the campaign for the legislatives, Nicolas Sarkozy and his comrade Eric Raoult had declared on French national TV that they have known each other since their National Military Service in 1978-79, where as simple soldiers, they both guarded the house of Ayatollah Khomeiny during his stay in Neauphle-le-Château in France.
From a simple soldier taking in charge Ayatollah Khomeiny's safety in Neauphle-le-Château, to a president-to-be flirting with Bush, life's twists and turns are often puzzling.