I was trying to think of a way to frame a greeting to our French readers as they vote sunday in the first round of their Presidential Election, but I can't seem to come up with a turn of phrase that seems appropriate to the occasion.
"Good luck"? "Our condolences"? "I feel your pain"?
It probably sounds like a joke, I guess, but I am trying to be sincere. It's very hard to imagine any good to come out of this process; the only candidate that I felt would have shifted France back to a position of strength, Philippe de Villiers, has been consistently marginalized to the bottom of the list in poll after poll, seemingly unnoticed by his fellow citizens, despite the clear vision with which he identifies France's true problems and needs.
As we discussed at our meeting last week, over a third of the voters in these pre-election polls are declaring themselves "undecided", which makes the first round vote a gut call rather than a sure thing. Are they really undecided, though, or just ashamed to admit their intention to cast a vote for anti-American and anti-Israel Front National candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen..?
I'm going to put the remaining scraps of my credibility on the line, and project Le Pen and gadfly François Bayrou as, respectively, the number one and number two winners in tomorrow's election. I think Sarkozy will come in a close third, with Segolene Royal a distant fourth.
I think Bayrou will end with most of Sego's socialist party's immigrant voting block, pushing him ahead of her, and pulling her behind Sarkozy. I think Sarkozy will lose much of his conservative support to Le Pen, who will be seen as more hardline on the law and order issues that plague the nation.
Then in the second round we will see history repeating itself, as France declares itself horrified at the news of Le Pen in the second round once more, and will hold their collective noses and raise Bayrou to the Presidency.
Which reminds me, maybe there can be some good to come out of this election, following the second round, after all:
French citizens won't have this gentleman in charge anymore....
What are Your election predictions?
UPDATE: I'm listening to election returns over France-Info, and so far my prediction isn't shaping up very well! First results are Sarkozy at 29%, Royal at 26%, Bayrou at 18%, with Le Pen at 10%.
UPDATE: Philippe de Villiers at 2%! That's even less than in his previous presidential campaign.
UPDATE: Le Pen is talking, he's disappointed in the people for choosing "the representatives of the system" in casting their votes for Sarkozy.
UPDATE: some interesting commentary on the "collapse" of the small parties, particularly on the left. Less than half of the total vote as compared to their numbers in the last election.
UPDATE: Televised Presidential debate between Sarkozy and Royal set for May 3. Based on the high electoral turnout (over 80%!) that debate will likely score very high ratings.