There is a new Anyone But Sarkozy movement afoot in France, particularly among the multiracial banlieue residents he once called 'racaille', or 'scum'. Sarkozy has also said he would clean out those neighborhoods with a type of high-powered hose used to clean graffitti off of buildings, a image so disturbing that the company that makes the hoses tried to distance itself from the comments. For me, and probably for most Americans, it recalls images from the civil rights movement of marchers and fire hoses. Sarkozy was described this week by Bayrou as a man "with a taste for intimidation and threats."
Nonetheless, Sarkozy is ahead in the polls, most recently 53% to 47%. It is alarming to think that someone so racially polarizing could take power. It seems like a given that if Sarkozy wins there will be rioting.
There also was a debate yesterday between Royal and Bayrou, even though Bayrou just lost in the first round of voting. Huh? I am not sure why. I guess it is a PR exercise. Royal seems to be leading slightly among Bayrou supporters (35% compared to 29% for Sarkozy) and is making a bid towards the political center. Meanwhile, Sarkozy had spent the previous weeks wooing the supporters of right-wing nutcase Le Pen, so he has less time to soften his image and try to capture centrists.
Turnout in the first round was at record highs, the highest in 30 years.