François Jean-Luc François Marine




The 57-year-old former leader of the Parti Socialiste (centre left) has been a politician since his 20s, but has never held ministerial office. He is the president of the Corrèze department in the south-west.

He became a professional politician in his 20s. He founded his own anti-EU, anti-American, anti-market party in 2008 (Front de Gauche – hard left).

Bayrou, 60, Mouvement Démocrate (centrist), is on his third presidential race. He was the only candidate in 2007 to warn of the risks of indebtedness.

Le Pen, 43, National Front (far right), replaced her father, Jean-Marie, as party president last year. She is a former lawyer and town councillor.

The President, 57, Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (centre right), previously held the posts of Interior Minister, Finance Minister and Budget Minister, and Mayor of his home town, Neuilly-sur-Seine.

There are five other candidates, who it is predicted will not garner many votes. They are Eva Joly (GreenEurope Ecology), Philippe Poutou (New Anti-Capitalist Party), Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Arise the Republic), Nathalie Arthaud (Workers’ Struggle) and Jacques Cheminade (Solidarity and Progress).


Could France get the competent new leader it needs?
In May 1981, a Socialist called François, long derided as a brilliant failure, was elected President of France. In May 2012, another Socialist called François, long derided as a brilliant failure, could become the President of our nearest Continental neighbour. Assume for a moment that the opinion polls are correct. Assume that Nicolas Sarkozy, an energetic and aggressive campaigner, will find no killer response in the next fortnight to François Hollande’s uncharismatic, nerveless slog towards the Elysée Palace. What sort of president might Mr Hollande be? What does the election of a centre-left leader in Europe’s second biggest economy mean for Britain? For Europe? For the world? The election of François Mitterrand was greeted by the French left as the dawn of a glorious new era. Power had shifted to the people. As it turned out, Mr Mitterrand was swimming against a global tide. It was the 1979 and 1980 elections in Britain and the United States which set the political fashion for three decades. After two years of full-on socialism, President Mitterrand was forced to come into line with the free-market thrust of Thatcherism and Reaganism. François Hollande is no left-wing ideologue. Nor is he a theoriser, or PR man, for a “New Left”. He is France’s John Smith.Heisanunlikely herald of a “new era”. But he will, if elected, come to power at a time when the greed-is-good, markets-rule verities of the ThatcherReagan era are discredited. And even some right-wing governments in Europe are discovering the dangers of the Berlin-imposed, all-austerity approach to the euro and sovereign debt crisis. MrHollande’s economic programme is vague but it is vaguely promising compared to the “Merkozy” orthodoxy. Mr Hollande promises budgetary responsibility, without saying precisely where the spending cuts will come. He promises higher taxes on big companies and the rich (including a 75 per cent tax on marginal incomesover €1m). He also promises to find new motors of growth for the stuttering European economy. This means Keynsian-type, EU infrastructure programmes and changes in the European Central Bank’s restrictive rules to open the taps of European quantitative easing. Heisnot the only person to argue that such policies are essential to prevent a calamitousrecession. Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Monti, says much the same. The New York Times columnist, and Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman, said recently that Europe would “commit suicide” if it failed to add reflationary policies to budget discipline. Mr Hollande was mocked two months ago for insisting that the EU fiscal discipline treaty must be reopened to add a new chapter on growth. Berlin would simply say “nein”, the commentators said. Some reports now suggest that Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledges reluctantly that she will have to take a more expansive economic line. The relations between this putative, new Franco-German couple – “Merlande?” – would be fascinating. Both are calm, stubborn and dull. Both are serenely good at getting their own way. And Britain? Mr Hollande is a convinced European. He will not be an easy European partner for David Cameron but he will be a less tricky neighbour than President Sarkozy. The Independent understands that the Cameron government has received assurances that France under Mr Hollande would continue its partnerships with the UK on shared military capability and a new generation of nuclear power stations. Suggestions Mr Hollande would scrap the nuclear deal signed by London and



Polls give him a narrow lead in first round and 54-57 per cent in second. A moderate blend of discipline and dirigisme. Tax of 75 per cent on incomes over €1m. A ban on stock options. Deficit to be reduced to zero by 2017, through higher taxes on the rich and “restraining” public spending. Aside from 30 per cent reduction in ministerial salaries, cuts are unclear. He wants Brussels to take a more reflationary approach. He would “renegotiate” austerity pact to add EU-wide infrastructure schemes. Not really his subject but he calls for police brigades to reduce illegal immigration and for parliament to set an annual quota for legal migrants.

After briefly overtaking Marine Le Pen, Mélenchon has subsided to fourth place. Hard-left rhetoric not matched by programme. Incomes over €360,000 to be taxed at 100 per cent. Boost for minimum wage and pension rights. The Mélenchon policy is “who cares?” There would be no restrictions on spending. French banks would be legally obliged to hold public debt. He would seek to abolish the existing EU treaties. He wants a “democratic” EU dedicated to social solidarity and state ecological planning.

His voters may be key to a Sarkozy rebound in the second round. His protectionist policies favour industrial and agricultural products “made in France”. He wants to regulate futures trading in raw materials. The budget would be balanced by 2016 by “freezing” spending in 2013 and 2014. But a “freeze” means de-facto cuts, which he declines to enumerate. He wants the President of the European Council to be directly elected and the EU to invest in renewable energy.

17 per cent would be a best-ever first round result for the NF. Unlike her father, pictured, she preaches an interventionist economic policy. Financial institutions would be controlled in the “national interest”. Halting mass immigration, abolishing tax breaks for the rich and ending the EU contribution would balance the books. Bank of France to print francs to “monetise” debt. Would abolish the EU or end French membership. A referendum would be called on a French exit from the euro.

Latest polls give him 25-27 per cent in first round and 43-46 per cent in the second. A mixture of liberalism and interventionism. Proposals include a hike in VAT to allow cuts in taxes on employers and new taxes on large firms. French budget deficit to be reduced to zero by 2016. Half of retiring civil servants not to be replaced; otherwise vague on cuts. He insists the EU fiscal treaty is sacrosanct, but suggests the ECB print money to boost growth.








He is calling for the regularisation of all illegal immigrants and automatic citizenship for everyone born in France or anyone who has lived in France for five years.

Illegal immigrants to be legalised if they speak French and are integrated. New EU efforts to control illegal immigration, in co-operation with the countries of origin.

Legal migration would be cut by 95 per cent; all illegal emigrants would be expelled; French nationality would no longer be given to all those born on French soil.

Will suspend French membership of the “open-borders” treaty unless the EU strengthens its defences against immigration.

Mr Hollande’s economic programme is vaguely promising compared with the “Merkozy” orthodoxy
Parisin March are “utterly without foundation”, according tothe Hollande camp. Mr Hollande insists that the 3,600 French troops in Afghanistan must come home at the end of this year. This will be a blow to President Obama, but not a calamitous one. Mr Hollande will not bow to the anti-Americanism of the French left. He said yesterday he would send French troops to Syria if the UN agreed to intervene. François Mitterrand mis-forecast the spirit of the 1980s. Does Mr Hollande, inhis unspectacular way, represent the zeitgeist of 2012 and the difficult “Teeny” years ahead? “Hollandisme” could provide a competent, pragmatic, managerial escape-route from the mess we are all in. On the other hand, it could turn out to be a well-meaning muddle. If Mr Hollande fails, the face of the “Teenies” in Europe could be ugly: something like the anti-market populism of the new hero of the French hard-left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon; or the white-collar xenophobia of Marine Le Pen. Nicolas Sarkozy is a compelling candidate, but an erratic and divisive President. François Hollande is, by comparison, a dull candidate. There are many reasons to hope that he would, if elected, prove to be a quietly effective and consensual leader.


French troops to leave Afghanistan by the end of the year. Would seek to “renegotiate” the terms of France’s position in Nato.

Withdrawal from Nato, the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan and scrapping the French nuclear deterrent.

Wants a full-scale European defence policy, to retain the French nuclear deterrent, and French troops to leave Afghanistan by 2014.

Remove France from Nato; would remove French troops from Afghanistan. Defence spending would be cut to 2 per cent of GDP.

The 3,600 French troops in Afghanistan will be reduced to 400 “trainers” by 2014. No armed intervention in Syria.



Despondent Sarkozy faces his final reckoning
The President’s team is still talking up the possibility of a narrow lead in tomorrow’s first round of voting, but John Lichfield finds little to suggest his campaign has won over a sceptical electorate

A final batch of opinion polls yesterday offered scant encouragement to President Nicolas Sarkozy before the first round of the French presidential election tomorrow. The President’s supporters say that low turnout, polling errors and lastminute changes of mind could still propel Mr Sarkozy into a narrow lead when the scores of the 10 first-round candidates are counted tomorrow evening. Three out of five polls before the multi-candidate stage of the campaign officially ended at midnight last night showed the Socialist challenger, François Hollande, increasing his narrow first-round lead over the President. All polls showed him winning a crushing victory over Mr Sarkozy by up to 14 points in the two-candidate second round in two weeks’ time.

President Sarkozy’s campaign team accepts that he must top the first-round field tomorrow to make him appear a “winner” and gain the necessary momentum to overhaul Mr Hollande before 6 May. They insist that opinion pollsters are missing a “hidden” layer of Sarkozy supporters who dare not openly voice their choice. But this amounts to an admission that President Sarkozy has deeply alienated a broad section of the electorate in the past five years. Mr Sarkozy has fought a passionate campaign but he has also zigzagged between hard-right and statesmanlike poses, and made baseless claims. The harder he has campaigned, the more he has reminded some voters of what they disliked in his presidency. In a final flurry of radio interviews and

Mr Sarkozy at yesterday’s rally a rally in Nice yesterday, Mr Sarkozy mixed contrition with aggression. He acknowledged that he had not behaved with sufficient decorum in his first year in office when his popularity plunged and never fully recovered.

ButthePresident also lambasted Mr Hollande as a soft and inexperienced candidate, who would lead France and Europe to economic catastrophe. In the past year, Mr Sarkozy said, he had rescued the euro from meltdown and reduced France’s budget deficit. If Mr Hollande was elected, France would “share the fate of Spain”, he said. “What has [Hollande] achieved?” MrSarkozy asked.“For 10 years he was head of the Socialist party. He wasn’t the head of very much.” The Socialist candidate, who spent the day campaigning in the north of France in Champagne-Ardennes, paraded his presidential qualities. Mr Hollande said that, if elected, he would send French troops to Syria so long as the United Nations Security Council agreed an international intervention.

Much will depend tomorrow on turnout and the late choices of voters hesitating between mainstream and populist candidates. The final batch of opinion polls had an unusual symmetry. Mr Hollande was given 27 to 30 per cent of the first-round vote and Mr Sarkozy 27 to 25 per cent. The far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, (14-17 per cent) was scrapping for third place with the hard-left candidate, JanLuc Mélenchon (12-14.5 per cent). A last-minute migration of voters to or from the extremist candidates of left or right could alter the finishing position of the two leading candidates. Topping the first-round poll would give Mr Sarkozy a vital boost, but would not necessarily change the outcome on 6 May.

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