Meet the man who would be Kingmaker in France’s presidential elections: Francois Bayrou. He came third after the first round of voting, but he may play an important role in deciding the country’s direction over the next few years. The result of the run-off in May is expected to hinge on how the centrists who backed him now allocate their votes – to Segolene Royal or Nicolas Sarkozy.
And Francois Bayrou is enjoying the moment. “I have good news for you,” Bayrou said. “From tonight, French politics is going to change and it will never be what it used to be. In spite of all the innumerable manoeuvres, in spite of the strategic alliance of Royal’s Socialist Party and Sarkozy’s UMP, in spite of the manipulated polls, in spite of these considerable forces, more than seven million French people came together to support a magnificent idea of change.”
Bayrou said “there is finally a centre in France” and that “all his decisions over the coming days” would be inspired by this. Both Royal and Sarkozy will no doubt begin working to win Bayrou over. With his comments, the Kingmaker has shown he will make the centre’s influence felt on policy, as the courting goes on.
But he may not have much room to move. His party may have to rely on its alliance with Sarkozy’s party to keep seats in parliament. At this stage, Bayrou is not saying how he will jump. And aides say he may in the end decide not to anoint either candidate.