It will almost certainly be no surprise to anyone that 57 year old Francoise Holland, Socialist party candidate and Nicolas Sarkozy, also 57 and the UMP candidate are through in the first round of voting in France – they will now go head to head in the May 6 election for one of them reach or retain the heady heights of President of France.
It seems to have been a close call; Hollande was slightly ahead in the vote count but not by a huge margin.
We watched yesterday as despite torrential rain, streams of people from our village made their way to vote at the Town Hall – serious looks on their faces, voting this time round is a serious business. Newspapers had been predicting a low turnout but it seems that actually some 80% of registered voters participated in yesterday’s voting process.
Everyone feels that whoever makes it through to the next round needs to be strong, tough and will not have an easy job on their hands.
Many say Sarkozy has the experience but other says he’s had four years to use his position to make changes and he hasn’t delivered – things have got worse, not necessarily his fault but his perceived love of the “bling bling” lifestyle as they say here has made many dislike him intensely. Reports of expensive dining habits and published details of increased spending on entertainment at the Presidential Palace have made his standing worse at a time of financial difficulty when people are worried about the future in France. Others say that Hollande lacks experience, but he seems far more in touch with reality than the competition appears to be, with his talk of increased spending to stimulate employment – a good ploy in a country where there is such a high rate of employees working in jobs related to Government.
It looks like being a close call all the way through to the end and we’re expecting lots of electioneering bally-hoo on the TV, radio, newspapers and in rallies all over France in the next weeks as the two candidates will appeal to those who voted for the other parties who between them achieved some 30% of the total votes cast with Marine Le Penn (National Front) gaining almost 20%.