Monday, April 23, 2007

French follow U.S. lead in presidential election - unfortunately

So the first round of the French election is over and it was a bit of shock: conservative/right wing/ultra-nationalistic, France for the French candidate Nicolas Sarkozy did quite well. Sarkozy pro-fesses to be pro-American, but it's more pro-conservative/neo-con America.

One of the fellows I traveled with in Europe reminded us that as a group we overwhelmingly voted on our last day in Brussels that we thought moderate/centrist candiate Francois Bayrou would win. We probably hoped he would, but when the polls closed in the first round of voting, Sarkozy had a strong lead over Socialist Segolene Royal, with far-right, 78-year old candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen bringing up the rear.

Nicolas Sarkozy - 31.1 percent
Segolene Royal - 25.8 percent
Francois Bayrou - 18.5 percent
Jean-Marie Le Pen - 10.5 percent

The run-off vote is on May 6. This article in the International Herald Tribune has an eye-opening breakdown of how different demographics voted: Older voters chose Sarkozy, while young picked Royal.

We had lots of discussions on the trip about where Europe is headed. Most people spoke hopefully of a more inclusive Europe. This preliminary vote shows a different view. I hope it's not a harbinger of what's to come.

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