French politics

A bad moment for an outgoing candidate

Did Nicolas Sarkozy already lose the presidential race? The issue is too serious and too premature to give an answer but has to be asked, referring the recent events.

Nicolas Sarkozy during his visit at Bayonne (south-east of France, Aquitaine Region), the 1st of March

Indeed, the outgoing president was very booed and shaken by some Basque activists during a visit in the town-centre of Bayonne (south-west of France). The violence was so impressive that the candidate-president has to take refuge in a café before leaving the city one hour after. This situation is very unusual for a president although it’s not the first time it happens. In 2002, for instance, Jacques Chirac, also running for a second mandate, came in the suburbs of Paris where he has been insulted by some people who even spat on his face.

Nicolas Sarkozy did not lose time to react, accusing immediately the socialists to be responsible for the demonstration. Such an accusation was rejected by the main socialist leaders, as Manuel Valls, former candidate in the framework of the primaries, and current communication adviser of François Hollande.

The campaign is becoming harder and harder and now, it’s an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, and too bad for the debate! This is maybe the strategy currently led by the outgoing candidate who hopes to use his misadventure as a political argument to incriminate the French socialists although any activist did not take part to the violent demonstrations, as an Agence France Presse (AFP) journalist confirmed.

The situation is very impressive insofar as the president-candidate is brought back to the reality of his action and his outcome. This reality undoubtedly explains the tension suddenly increased between the UMP and the Parti socialiste. This tension is reigning within the ruling party after a difficult week for Nicolas Sarkozy, the UMP candidate still occupying the second place in the opinion polls. What is more, François Hollande increases his advance and successes to impose his themes and proposals as the 75% imposition high income tax, approved by 61% of the French people according to a recent poll.

It is too early to assess the impact of the recent events on the presidential race and on the Nicolas Sarkozy’s one particularly. Moreover, the outgoing president is still resourceful and did not say his last word. Nonetheless, the verbal tension we are attending shows the UMP is lacking serenity, as the recent attacks against François Hollande are proving. The next days should be determinant insofar as a part of the campaign could be played out for one or the other of the two main frontrunners.