France: 100 days to presidential poll

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France: 100 days to presidential poll

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It is 100 days until France’s presidential election.

And while Nicolas Sarkozy is carving out an increasing share of votes for himself according to opinion polls, he is still forecast to lose his job.

First Lady Carla Bruni has pledged her support for the conservative president who has not officially said he will be standing for re-election. If he does, she says: “I will participate as much as possible.”

Frontrunner to replace him in the Elysee Palace, despite never having held ministerial office, is Socialist François Hollande. His former long-term partner and fellow socialist Ségolène Royale lost to Sarkozy in the presidential poll last time round in 2007.

The woman making headlines in this contest is the National Front’s Marine Le Pen. Third in the polls, she is widely credited with making the far-right party more acceptable than it was under her father, Jean-Marie.

Voting intentions put her narrowly ahead of centrist candidate François Bayrou. He is looking even stronger than he did five years ago when his middle ground approach enjoyed some success at the ballot box.

As for Sarkozy’s approval ratings compared to those of previous presidents make grim reading.

In a study by the IFOP polling institute, Sarkozy is not shown getting past the first round of voting.

According to IFOP’s Frederic Dabi, this has never happened for an outgoing president under the Fifth Republic.

Dabi said that at this stage before the ballot, looking at voting intentions and popularity ratings: “We have never seen a president in such a weak position in terms of public opinion.”

Some things never change in France but if the polls are to be believed, come May 6, the country will have a new head of state.