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Presidential Election - 05 May 2012

Unemployment and the country's sluggish economy were top voter concerns during the 2012 election. Surveys show French were also worried about crime and immigration. Sarkozy ran on his law-and-order image and his experience steering France through its economic downturn and dealing with the larger eurozone crisis. This presidential campaign was a clash of personalities. It was between a man who was perceived as too much - Nicolas Sarkozy - and a man who may be perceived as not enough - Francois Hollande. In this battle Sarkozy was a man whose energy was remarkable, incredible, but whose nervousness or political opportunism made people uneasy. So there was a personal rejection of Nicolas Sarkozy that made this election something unique.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy courted the country's far-right voters, following his second-place finish in the first-round presidential elections April 22, 2012. Sarkozy received 27 percent of the vote, and was edged out by Socialist Francois Hollande with 28 percent. But far-right candidate Marine Le Pen finished a surprising third with more than 18 percent, the best showing for the anti-immigrant National Front party. Sarkozy said that National Front voters must be respected. "They have made a choice. They have expressed a choice. It is a vote of suffering, of crisis, why insult them? I tell them that I have heard them," he said. "I will take the consequences." After five years in office, Sarkozy was also seen by many French citizens as not delivering on his promises - especially in the area of economics.

On May 05, 2012 Francois Hollande, the former leader of France’s Socialist Party, was elected president of France, defeating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. Despite being one of France's best known politicians, the 57-year-old Hollande has never held a position in the national government. François Hollande’s victory on May 6, 2012 marks the return of the French left to power, 17 years after François Mitterrand’s historic win in 1981. Hollande, who beat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy by 51.6% of the vote to 48.4%, came to power on a promise to tax the super rich, promote growth instead of austerity and create thousands of jobs in education. In a first symbolic gesture, the newly-named government led by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault voted to cut ministers’ salary by 30%.

On June 17, 2012 initial results showed that France's Socialist Party had captured the absolute majority of the country's National Assembly seats in runoff elections, giving newly elected President Francois Hollande a strong mandate to carry out his economic policies. Speaking to the nation, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the new leftist majority was determined to govern in a way that was fair and responsible. But Ayrault also described the economic challenges for France and the 17-nation eurozone. He said everything will be difficult, but that France has enormous attributes, particularly its young people. The election results were a blow for the conservative UMP party that commanded the last National Assembly, which was still reeling from the defeat of former president Nicolas Sarkozy in May. Other longtime UMP members were also defeated in this runoff vote, including former Defense and Interior Minister Michele Alliot Marie.

Hollande's popularity hit a record low in 2014, with his approval rating falling below 20 percent for the first time since his May 2012 election, TNS Sofres opinion poll for Le Figaro Magazine showed in February 2014. The record level of disapproval reflected turmoil in his personal life, high levels of unemployment, and lack of economic growth.

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Page last modified: 06-05-2016 19:55:07 ZULU