The political excitement is mounting; for weeks now, the focus has been on the presidential race. A couple of Sundays ago, the first round saw a massive 84% turnout and the two main parties’ candidates came first and second. On the right, for the UMP, Nicolas Sarkozy. On the left, for the PS, SÃ©golÃ¨ne Royal. So these two top placed candidates (gaining 31% and 26% of the vote respectively) now fight it out in a second round this Sunday.
Opinion polls consistently put Mr Sarkozy ahead by 1-4 points, but the number of declared undecided voters easily outweigh the margin of error in these rather unreliable gauges of public opinion. Last night a televised debate between the two candidates overran by at least half an hour, and showed Mrs. Royal to be rather more aggressive than usual, and Mr. Sarkozy rather more calm. The end result seems to have smoothed the rough edges around each candidate.
As an Englishman in France, I don’t have the right to vote, even though I do pay rather a lot of taxes :-(. You must have French nationality – which I can legitimately claim, being married to a French national – to vote in presidential elections. So I follow the elections full of contradictory emotions. On the one hand, the chosen president will probably have some impact on my professional life, particularly in the case of a win by the right. On the other, since I don’t have the right to vote, my opinion won’t count.
I could perhaps persuade others to vote in one way or the other on Sunday, but here is not the place to cite my political opinion. Even if freedom of speech protects political opinion more than anything else, I think I’ll stick in the undecided camp and leave the French nationals to choose for me.
UPDATE: Surfing around, I just found that Paddy Power are giving 4-1 for SÃ©golÃ¨ne Royal and 1-7 (or 7-1 on) for Nicolas Sarkozy. The right are clear favourites…