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France ready to send Sarkozy into retirement

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The first round of elections will be this weekend and while the current president, Nicolas Sarkozy, will likely make it to the second round, it's doubtful that he will win. If anything, this election is more about him than it is with anyone else. His primary competitor is the Socialist François Hollande, who has the charisma of Michael Dukakis. The left is about as excited for Hollande as Democrats were for Dukakis back in the day.

Fortunately for Hollande, Sarkozy has a very limited appeal in the broader population. His flashy style was never well received by the conservative country and his inability to get along with others has not helped either. One gets the impression that he was the kid in the playground who wouldn't let anyone else play in "his" sandbox. The economic crisis is certainly an issue, but it's just one of many reasons why voters will likely send him away.

One change that is likely to occur with an Hollande victory is a move away from austerity, which is clobbering Europe and the UK. He may not be an exciting candidate, but Hollande is aware of the problems triggered by austerity, and will break with those failed policies.

Assuming an Hollande victory, will there be any significant changes? Changes yes, but nothing extreme for most people. Much like other countries, it's increasingly difficult to find big differences between the so-called left and the so-called right in France. (In France we're talking of the center-left and center-right. The "left" or the "right" is generally what people consider the extremes, such as Le Pen on the right or the Communists on the left.) There is a lot of discontent among many that the old party lines of a few decades ago are too blurred, much like they are in the US.

More on the upcoming French elections via Reuters.

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