Look for Sarkozy to Win a Second Five-Year Presidential Term in France

You can't tell the players without a scoreboard but you don't need a scoreboard to know Nicolas Sarkozy will be France's president for the next five years again when the election polls close Sunday April 22.

If there is a runoff, the final votes will be tallied May 6.

Elections in France are historically held on a Sunday. This will be Sarkozy's final term in office.  Presidents in France, as in the U.S., may only serve two terms.

Sarkozy has been in the headlines almost daily since elected in 2007. He is a right-winger with the Union for a Popular Movement Party (UPM) and is expected to overcome a current slight lead in the polls by Socialist Party major challenger François Hollande.

Also in the running are Marine Le Pen, National Front Party (FN); Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Left Front Party (LFP); and François Bayrou, Democratic Movement Party (MoDem)

Sarkozy, like President Barack Obama in the U.S., is the most visible politician in France. His wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, like Obama's wife, Michelle, is just as photogenic and just as well-known. Carla is a former Italian-French songwriter, singer, actress, and model.

The public in France likes the way Sarkozy handled the recent Toulouse killings by self-professed al-Qaeda gunman Mohamed Merah. Police shot and killed Merah as he sought to escape through a bedroom window at his apartment.

Police had tried to negotiate with the killer for 32 hours before storming his apartment.

Similar public sentiment arose in the U.S. when Obama ordered the successful May 1, 2011 assassination of terrorist Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.

France, like the U.S., is entangled in debt.  Still, Sarkozy tells the voters, he will not raise taxes if elected.  He is against a surge of pending immigration to his country, a move his challenger embraces.  New immigration and lax border security will drown France, Sarkozy warns.

Those are the two main issues on which Sarkozy and Hollande are battling. But like U.S. voters, the French are far more concerned about the economy, employment and purchasing power.  Sarkozy faces sharp dialogue from opponents on those points.

However, he is pleased with new data that show France had avoided falling into recession. The economy grew by 1.7 per cent last year.

But Sarkozy's momentum could be blunted by potentially explosive allegations that he received 800,000 euros of cash ($1 million) from ailing L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt to help fund his 2007 presidential campaign.

A judge investigating alleged illegal party funding as part of the complex Bettencourt scandal has discovered two suspicious cash withdrawals by the octogenarian billionaire's ex-wealth manager, Patrice de Maistre.

These coincide with a meeting between De Maistre and Sarkozy's former campaign treasurer and, some witnesses alleged, with another to the Bettencourts by Sarkozy himself. Sarkozy has denied receiving any illegal funds.

His main challenger, Socialist François Hollande, is worried by Sarkozy's latest surge in the polls but also by leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Left Front party.  Melenchon is now polling at around 13 per cent.

He is about three points behind National Front candidate Le Pen and just ahead of centrist François Bayrou.  Mélénchon wants to confiscate all annual earnings above 360,000 euros ($426,510 US).

Come April 12, the numbers will be all for Sarkozy.

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