Defections and poll plunge hit Sarkozy
French president and candidate for re-election in 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy, gestures as he delivers a speech during a campaign meeting in Paris. AP photoFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy’s re-election hopes suffered a double setback four days from the first round of voting when a string of public defections compounded the impression that his tumble in opinion polls is pushing victory beyond reach.
Former town planning minister Fadela Amara joined a growing list of political figures to desert the conservative Sarkozy and announce they will vote for his arch-rival, Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande, Reuters reported. That followed the most devastating opinion poll for weeks, which showed Hollande has opened a five-point lead over Sarkozy in the first ballot on April 22, and the Socialist has a yawning 16-point advantage in voting intentions for the May 6 runoff. Amara, one of the left-of-centre figures Sarkozy recruited to government in the first years, joined Corinne Lepage, an ecologist former environment minister who said she would back Hollande because Sarkozy had lurched too far to the right.
Move against Turkish diplomats
Meanwhile, Sarkozy is continuing to delay the opening of two Turkish consulate generals in France, according to the Anatolia news agency. Despite having given approval earlier, the report said Sarkozy had delayed the diplomatic visas of the consuls for Nantes and Bordeaux. Consuls have so far been waiting for official approval for 6 months. The move is being seen as a response to Turkey’s diplomatic measures after the French Senate approved legislation criminalizing denial of the 1915 events as genocide. Constitutional Council later struck down the law.