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Sarkozy candidacy prompts Gallic shrug from Socialists

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2012-03-06

France’s opposition Socialists will try “not to make a big deal” of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s much anticipated announcement - expected on Wednesday - that he will run for a second term in May’s election.

As France waits for incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy to announce his candidature for May’s election, the opposition Socialists have prepared their strategy for the day – don’t respond at all.

Sarkozy has generated considerable hype by refusing to pin down exactly when he will declare his intention to run for a second term.

The French president is expected to announce his candidacy on Wednesday evening, ending months of speculation.

Officially, the Socialist Party (PS) wants to respond by trivialising the event as much as possible.

“We have just got to let it happen and not try to make a big deal of it,” PS candidate Francois Hollande reportedly told his aides last week.

Hollande has pointedly refused to reschedule is second campaign meeting in the northern city of Rouen, which will also take place on Wednesday evening.

PS party spokesman Benoit Hamon said on Monday that the PS would respond “with tranquillity and serenity” to Sarkozy's announcement.

“It’s going to be a routine announcement,” he told a press conference. “When Nicolas Sarkozy speaks, there are no flashing red lights, it’s just another mundane event.”

Announcement will have ‘big impact’

Hamon also used the event to criticise Sarkozy for “playing games of suspense” with the electorate, and accused him of maintaining his non-candidate status in order to use public funds to promote himself (once he has declared, Sarkozy will have limited cash and air time for his campaign).

But if Hollande wants a blasé response from his party, behind closed doors there is recognition “that Nicolas Sarkozy’s declaration is going to have a very big impact,” a PS insider told Europe 1 radio on Tuesday, who added that the party was doing everything possible for a co-ordinated and considered response.

Party members will recall that former PS candidate Segolene Royal was visiting a farm when Sarkozy announced his candidacy in 2007 – an image that many considered an un-presidential “faux pas” that got her doomed campaign off to a muddy start.

And Hollande has been preparing a comprehensive response for a while – his book “Changer de Destin” (‘Changing Destiny’), whose contents remain a closely guarded secret, has been in the pipeline for some months and is due for release on Monday.

Date created : 2012-02-14


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