Sarkozy makes a hard right

Desperation is a stinky cologne, but what can he do? His chips are down.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, currently in serious danger of losing the election to Socialist leader Francois Hollande, is now attempting to woo the far-right.

Well duh. He’d already put a ban on hijabs and vowed to cut immigration in half… it only makes sense that he’d turn to the hard right in times of trouble. After Front Nationale leader Marine LePen took 18% in the first round of voting, Sarkozy turned to her supporters. Facepalm.

The BBC laid it out:

“Referring to LePen’s voters, Mr Sarkozy said: ‘I have heard you.’

‘There was this crisis vote that doubled from one election to another – an answer must be given to this crisis vote,’ he said.

In a speech to supporters in Tours, Mr Sarkozy also blamed ‘a media unleashed’ for his first round result.

‘We were campaigning against caricatures and lies… and I thank you for your support,’ he said …

Opinion polls taken after voting on Sunday suggested that between 48% and 60% of Le Pen voters would switch to backing Mr Sarkozy in the second round.”

Caricatures? Well… if the shoe fits.

Anyways. What does it all mean for his re-election bid? Reuters asked an expert:

“‘It will be very difficult for Sarkozy to gather votes from both the National Front and the centre at the same time,’ said political scientist Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the far right.

Le Pen called in her campaign for France to quit the euro currency and free itself from the ties of European economic policy. The message appealed to low-paid workers, the jobless and anxious young whites fed up with rife unemployment and calls for more austerity which they blame on European integration.

Camus said Sarkozy’s strategy of raising red-flag issues such as Islam and immigration to appeal to far-right voters was having limited effect with people who want France out of the euro single currency.

Sarkozy has already gone a long way with campaign pledges to halve immigration and pull France out of Europe’s open-border Schengen zone unless external frontiers are strengthened. But given his responsibilities as head of Europe’s No. 2 economy, he would struggle to tell Le Pen voters what they want to hear on Europe.

‘People are worried more today about the economic crisis, unemployment and purchasing power than immigration. Le Pen voters want the end of the euro and Europe and they know Sarkozy is attached to those things, and to economic liberalism,’ Camus said.”

But according to a Reuters survey, Sarkozy would need around 80 percent of Le Pen voters behind him to win the election. If only 60 per cent of Le Pen voters plan to switch to his side, he is still in a fair amount of trouble. And Le Pen, for her share, is avoiding the incumbent and will likely not endorse any candidate, as June will see a round of parliamentary elections sweep through France.

What do you think? Is it game over for Sarko?

Read more about French politics in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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