Conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has been courting the youth vote in his bid to become French President. Sarkozy is frontrunner to take the top job. Critics claim his hardline image poses a problem for the young. But he has set out to prove that, for him, French youth does matter. “I don’t believe in youth policy but in policy that allows young people to build a future up to their hopes and dreams,” he told a youth rally in Paris. “I don’t want to help you stay young. I want to help you become adults who realize the dreams of their youth.”
But to become head of state, he will have to fight off the challenge from Segolene Royal. The Socialist candidate, aiming to become France’s first female president, has been setting out her proposals for institutional reform. Demanding nothing less than a new French Republic, she has promised a referendum on a plan to curb the presidency and grant parliament more power. In a tight election race, the rise in the opinion polls of centrist candidate Francois Bayrou has sent shockwaves through the French political landscape.
He has been emphasizing his European credentials. In the wake of his country’s dramatic “No” vote to the EU constitution, Bayrou has pledged that if he is elected he will work to reconcile France with Europe and Europe with France. From today, voters will know how many would-be presidents they will have to choose from on April 22. The official list is being announced by electoral authorities.