The result of the French presidential elections is expected to hinge on the around 18 percent of voters who backed centrist Francois Bayrou. Analysts say they are a mixed bag, likely to split between second-round rivals Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy. Bayrou is not saying who he will endorse before a press conference on Wednesday. But, after having criticised both camps, aides say he may decide not to anoint either candidate.
The votes of those who supported Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round are also up for grabs. But his second-in-command says the far right leader will impose conditions on whichever candidate gets his nod. Le Pen won close to 11 percent of the vote, a fact analyst Dominic Moisi attributes to Nicolas Sarkozy’s results.” Sarkozy did extremely well,” Moisi said. “His strategy to attract at least one-third of the voters of the National Front, of the extreme right, proved to be a triumph. He destroyed Le Pen.”
Leading the smaller candidates, Olivier Besancenot of the Communist Revolutionary League has already urged his four percent of voters to throw their support behind the Socialist Party’s Ségolène Royal. “I have always fought against the politics of Jacques Chirac,” Besancenot said on Sunday evening. “I launch an appeal to beat the right in the streets and in the ballot boxes.”
With pollsters giving varying numbers on how voters will swing, only one thing is certain for the run-off in May. The next two weeks will be crucial in the campaign, as few of the votes will be easily won.