The French presidential election is heading into its first round election this weekend as candidates wrap up early campaigning. The 10 candidates finished campaigning in what has been a contentious and important election for both France and the future of the European Union. For many, this election signals a change in the national discourse. For incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, the first round of elections represents both an important referendum on his performance as well as the potential end of his stay as President of France.
Mr. Sarkozy, once the leader of the Union for a Popular Movement, has come under political fire in recent years over his handling of the Eurozone currency crisis and his performance on domestic political issues. With France’s jobless rate the highest in 12 years and a stagnant domestic economy barely recovering from recent economic turmoil, Mr. Sarkozy faces considerable pressure and opposition from those on the left and those in his own party. His most significant challenger is Francois Hollande, of the French Socialist party.
Mr. Hollande has campaigned consistently throughout the past months on a docket of taxation, finance, and social reforms which has been received positively by the French public. In Sunday’s election, Hollande is expected to win the popular vote, ensuring his place in the May 6 runoff which will determine the next President of France. For Sarkozy, who is expected to come in second, a loss in this first round election will confirm his perilous position in French politics. For Hollande and critics of Sarkozy, the April 23 election is one low hurdle on the way to the real test, which is the May 6 run-off and one about which they are optimistic. Hollande and his supporters look to alter the course and landscape of French politics with the first Socialist presidency in France in 24 years.
To stay up to date on the French election as it takes place, check out our coverage early next week!