If we consider the results of the first round of the French presidential elections two weeks ago as a public opinion poll that we can use to forecast the results of the second round next Sunday, then we would find that the right, represented by Nicolas Sarkozy, is about three percentage points ahead of the left, which includes in its ranks the Socialists and others, led by Francois Hollande.
However, all public opinion polls since the first round have been giving Hollande the lead in the second round, with 54 or 55 percent of the vote, compared to 45 percent for Sarkozy. So how is this possible?
Perhaps the answer that is closest to the truth is that the supporters of Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front (FN), will not all vote for the rightwing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy.
Recall that Hollande won 28.6 percent of the vote on the 21st of April, compared to 27.2 percent for Sarkozy. Marine Le Pen came third, with 17.9 percent of the vote.
Le Pen’s supporters are in their majority from the working class and the poor who were affected by the financial crisis, and many among those find no one else but the president to blame for the decline of their economic conditions. For this reason, experts insist that the assumption that all of Le Pen’s supporters will vote for Sarkozy is a wrong one. Another reason may perhaps be the fact that Marine and her father, the founder of the FN, Jean-Marie Le Pen, are not particularly fond of Sarkozy, and the father thinks that he is over. Meanwhile, Jacques Gaillard, Marine Le Pen’s campaign manager, believes that the choice the FN members face between Sarkozy and Hollande, is like the choice between the plague and cholera.
The President is aware of the hostile stance the FN leaders have against him. For this reason, he sought to attract the supporters of the radical right in recent days and told them what they wanted to hear about more stringent immigration laws, the Christian roots of France, and talk about the presence of ‘aliens among us’.
The problem with such talk is that the French Muslims can also hear it, even when they already need no one to incite him against the President. To be sure, French Muslims supported the Socialists and the Left in every election, and at very high rates. In the presidential election of 2007, 64% of French Muslims voted for the Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal, which means that their support for Hollande will be even stronger this time, given the statements of his rival which the Muslims perceive as targeting them.
I admit that I deal with French politics from the perspective of Arab interests, and therefore I say that there is no big difference between the right and the left in France, as both sides support Israel and seek to establish the best possible relations with the Hebrew state.
But if I were to choose between Sarkozy and Hollande, then I prefer the second for my own reasons, just like Muslims in France prefer him for theirs. Or perhaps I prefer Hollande because Sarkozy has served Israel enthusiastically since 2007, despite the fact that a fascist rightwing extremist was elected to office there. Were it not for the fact that the charlatan Benjamin Netanyahu exhausted Sarkozy with his lies, he would have probably continued to defend the Israeli government in every forum and to this very day. Perhaps the clearest example of Sarkozy’s full bias in favor of Israel is his hardline position on the Iranian nuclear program, which is completely identical to Netanyahu’s position.
Today, we are hearing about documents from Gaddafi’s era that show that the Libyan leader sought to finance Sarkozy’s campaign for the presidency. I find this to be in agreement with information I had heard from some of the senior figures of the Gaddafi regime, who defected at the beginning of the uprising against him. I have information about another Arab country that funded Sarkozy’s campaign in 2007, but I have no conclusive evidence of this.
I think that Francois Hollande will most likely win the presidency. However, I don’t rule out anything, and I wait instead for the outcome of the FN’s rally today, and the debate between the President and his rival on Wednesday, before we know who the winner will be on the night of Election Day, next Sunday. But what I am confident about is that the French presidency in the Fifth Republic has declined with each president. There no longer are any men of the caliber of Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou and Jacques Chirac (whose French problems mean nothing to me, but I rather cherish his opposition to the war on Iraq). In light of this decline, Hollande remains better than Sarkozy for both his country and ours.
The writer is a prominent columnist. The article was published in Dar Al Hayat on May 1, 2012