Yesterday the French people went to the polls. It is not fair to say that France did, as many who were entitled to cast a vote in the National Ballot for President live in far flung countries. Sunday April 22, 2012, was the first vote in the election and the French said a resounding NON to Sarkozy.
Exit polls aired in other countries before the vote closed indicated that Sakozy would suffer a loss. Ironically these polls were unavailable in France where it is illegal to make public such polls before the actual vote has ended.
SkyNews reported that, With 98% of the votes counted, Mr Hollande is in the lead winning 28.6% of the vote. Mr Sarkozy is just behind his rival with 27.1%."Tonight I become the candidate of all the forces who want to turn one page and turn over another," Mr Hollande said following the vote.
Perhaps more worrying is that far right politician Marine Le Pen received over 18% of the vote. This the highest vote received for her Party. It must be attributed to the fact that times are tough. For many when times get financially tough nationalism thoughts rise and ills are often wrongly put at the door of immigrants.The far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon polled 11.1%. of the vote.
The second round of voting on May 6 will pit Mr Sarkozy and Mr Hollande against each other. If pundits have it right Mr Sarkozy will be the loser. However it could be a whole different ball game. Mr Sarkozy wil certainly be hoping that it will be. The far right supporters of Le Pen will no doubt shift to Mr Sarkozy and so Hollande could have an uphill battle.
This first vote though is a tough blow for Nicolas Sarkozy. It is the first time in 50 years that an outgoing president has failed to win a first-round vote. He will see it as a personal failure.
The ongoing economic crisis, especially in Europe, has seen many governments and leaders toppled. We, the voter, tend to blame the situation solely on the current government when in reality it is a mixture of many factors that has caused the problems. In the US it could result in a loss at the polls for President Obama. However he has only had one term in office following on from a Republican period in history. Mr Sarkozy's political party has been at the helm of France for many, many years. Perhaps this will mean that the French decide it is time for change.
Mr Sarkozy will now be looking at how to turn public opinion around before May 6. Will he be successful or does he face an impossible task?