If Sarkozy wins centre-right primary, Marie Le Pen will be next President of France

As with the US election, the French election will go to the one with the lower negatives (and bear in mind that Hillary Clinton did indeed have greater negatives where it counted than Donald Trump did).

Nicolas Sarkozy, beat Jean-Marie Le Pen to become president of France in 2007, and lost to Francois Hollande in 2012. He is now trying to win the centre-right primary election in November which would give him a strong chance of to become head of state again in May 2017.

But he begins to sound very much like Le Pen the father and may well meet Marie Le Pen who has broken away from her father to now be a not improbable candidate for President. Sarkozy (who, in my opinion, is about as trustworthy as Tony Blair’s pet snake) begins to sound remarkably like le Pen the father to try and take away Marine Le Pen’s base.

Le Pen versus Sarkozy? image The Telegraph

Le Pen versus Sarkozy? image The Telegraph

The Guardian:“War has been declared on us,” he told Valeurs Actuelles this month as he held court at the summer mansion of his singer-supermodel wife, Carla Bruni. “War. France must be merciless, it must push that fear over to the other side.” Sarkozy is putting forward a platform of hardline policies on French national identity, Islam, and security which veer even further to the far right than his hardline stance in 2012, when he set out to win over voters from Marine Le Pen’s Front National

He wants to ban the Muslim headscarf from universities and public companies, limit the French nationality rights of children born of foreign parents, and ban pork-free options in school canteens so Muslim and Jewish children would no longer be offered a substitute meal.

There are 4 candidates in the primary race,

Alain Juppé, 71, is the centre-right mayor of Bordeaux and former prime minister under Jacques Chirac. Once detested for his attempted pension changes in 1995 and nicknamed “Amstrad” for his robotic efficiency and cold, grey image, he is now France’s favourite politician.

Nicolas Sarkozy, 61, is currently leader of the right’s Les Républicains party. He was French president from 2007 to 2012.

Bruno Le Maire, 47, was an agriculture minister during Sarkozy’s presidency. The Normandy MP has styled himself as the candidate for “renewal”, standing for a new, younger generation in a contest dominated by older candidates.

François Fillon, 62, was Sarkozy’s prime minister, but has since questioned Sarkozy’s style and policies. He is running on a pro-business reform agenda, promising to tackle France’s economic woes.

As in the US election Marie Le Pen and Sarkozy have high negatives:

73% of French people did not want Hollande re-elected next year and 66% did not want Sarkozy back in office, while 63% did not want Le Pen.

Even if Marie Le Pen’s chances are still small, who her opponent will be could become crucial. If Sarkozy wins the right to stand in the first leg by winning the centre-right primary and if he joins Marie Le Pen as one of the two left standing after the first round in April 2017, then I can see Marie Le Pen winning the second round. Between the two of them I suspect that Sarkozy will have the greater negatives.

QuartzOn the face of it, her chances would appear slim. Unlike in the US, the French electoral system is designed to only deliver a president who is endorsed by an absolute majority of the electorate. But Le Pen’s rival parties are in disorder, which could ease her path, unless the electorate can pull together. ……. 

There are two rounds of voting in the French presidential election set two weeks apart. In 2017, the first round will be on Sunday April 23, the second on Sunday May 7.

 An unlimited number of candidates can stand in the first round, provided they gather a certain amount of support from local parliamentarians. If one of them achieves an absolute majority in the first round (50% plus one vote), then they are pronounced president. The fragmented nature of French politics means, however, that this has never happened since the system was set up in 1965. ………. 

There is every possibility that Le Pen will be ahead after the first round in April 2017 so the question is how much chance she has in the second round. ……

In the past, voters have united to prevent the far-right from winning the run off, but France’s other main parties are failing to offer new faces for voters—and recently we’ve seen all too well what can happen when the establishment fails to address the discontent of the people. They are also consumed by their own problems.  The left appears to have collapsed, while right-wing voters are deeply divided about who their candidate should be.  …….

Le Pen’s discourse of “the same old faces and the same old promises” has found some traction against this backdrop. With seven more-or-less familiar figures fighting it out, the contest hardly has the look of new blood about it. It doesn’t help that Sarkozy has various investigations hanging over his head and that Juppé was stripped of the right to stand for election or hold office for two years in 2004. …..

Voters on the left could probably see themselves voting for Juppé if he ended up in the second round with Le Pen but the same is not necessarily true in a Sarkozy/Le Pen contest.

If Sarkozy wins the centre-right primary, Marie Le Pen will be the next President of France. (And I would prefer a strident Marie to a slimy Nicolas).

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