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|France´s vote on Sarkozy the bully|
Corriere della Sera - April 30th 2007
The second-round vote in
Yes, Royal won the biggest first-round vote for the left since Mitterrand. But Sarkozyís vote was the biggest first-round vote for the centre-right since Valery Giscard díEstaing in 1974. The votes for the fringe left candidates were low, just as Jean-Marie Le Penís vote was low by his previous standards. The rise of Francois Bayrou was a slap in the face for Sarkozy, showing as it did that he did not command the instinctive support of everyone in the centre or on the right. But who now has the best chance to take a majority of that 18.3% slice of the voters, plus a goodly chunk of Le Penís 11.5%, if they turn out to vote a second time? The betting has to be on Sarkozy.
It is a referendum on him that he has every chance of winning. The reason for describing it as a referendum is that unlike Royal, Sarkozy has a programme much of which he can be expected to try to implement and he has a governing style that is well known. He is energetic, publicity-hungry, manipulative, outspoken and, yes, abrasive. In fact, an even better term than abrasive might be that he is a bully: he is well known for getting his way through threats and tantrums.
That reputation might, of course, be an exaggeration by the media and by his opponents. But it is a firm part of his image. And there are enough stories about it to make it feel credible. I have one such small story of my own. A couple of years ago The Economist arranged a debate in
The question for