Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 01 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Coverage of Gaza in the Israeli media

Read more

REPORTERS

1914-1918: The Depths of Hell

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 01 August 2014

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

Read more

#THE 51%

World War One: The war that changed women’s lives

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Ségolène Royal goes for green

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

A look back at some of the Observers' best stories

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

  • Hamas denies capturing Israeli soldier as Gaza truce lies in tatters

    Read more

  • Scores killed in China factory explosion

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

    Read more

  • Police chokehold caused NYC death, coroner rules

    Read more

  • France tops requests to erase online footprint, says Google

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Rogue general denies Islamist seizure of Benghazi

    Read more

  • Ugandan court strikes down anti-gay legislation

    Read more

  • 1914-1918: The Depths of Hell

    Read more

  • Regional summit to tackle deadly Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • French hospital to open wine bar for terminally ill patients

    Read more

  • Video: Tipping is dying out in French café culture

    Read more

  • €2.5 million in cocaine ‘disappears’ from Paris police HQ

    Read more

  • Appeal court keeps French rogue trader Kerviel in jail

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Ukrainian army suffers losses in separatist attack

    Read more

France

Centrist Bayrou's tactical game in supporting Hollande

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-05-04

François Bayrou, leader of the centrist MoDem party, has announced that he will vote for Socialist candidate François Hollande in Sunday’s presidential election, a move that some argue has more to do with expediency than ideology.

Centrist also-ran presidential candidate François Bayrou announced late on Thursday that he will be voting for socialist nominee François Hollande in the election's second round on Sunday.

Some French columnists put this surprise about-face – for centrists traditionally throw their support rightward – down to political expediency rather than Bayrou's declared ideological objections to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

They argue that Bayrou is hoping – and scheming – that a defeat on Sunday for Sarkozy will breathe new life into his own faltering political party and enable it to re-establish itself as a part of the French political landscape.

Still, the MoDem leader’s positions on the economy and deficit reduction are much closer to those of the incumbent. “I do not support Hollande’s position economically,” Bayrou has said. “It is ill-suited to the country's situation, and even more so to the [economic] crisis, that will almost certainly last a long time.”

Sarkozy’s swing to the right

However, Bayrou argued that he has been given no choice but to back Hollande, due to the “violence” of Sarkozy’s efforts to attract voters from the far-right National Front, whose leader Marine Le Pen scored a record-breaking 18% in the first round on April 22.

“Sarkozy has been too focused on wooing far-right voters," Bayrou said. “The line he has chosen is violent and in contradiction with our values, not just mine and the political movement I represent, but also those of [Charles de Gaulle] and the social, republican right.”

Bayrou blasted Sarkozy’s “obsession with immigration” and his “fixation with ‘re-establishing’ strong borders – as if they had disappeared and with them the national soul.”

And although his support falls short of an outright endorsement of the Socialist Party candidate, it will certainly help cement Hollande’s lead - currently between 5% and 6% – if enough of his supporters choose to follow suit.

Rebuilding the MoDem?

For some, Bayrou is playing a long game in the hope that a complete and outright rejection of Sarkozy’s government will revive his own party’s fortunes.

The MoDem candidate got 18% of the vote in the first round of the 2007 presidential election, only to see that number halved to 9% in 2012.

According to communist-backed daily "L’Humanité", Bayrou is hoping that a resounding defeat of Sarkozy could lead to the marginalisation of the president’s ruling UMP party and lead to a re-drawing of the French opposition following the “decapitation” of the UMP – a battleground that will be hotly contested by the far-right National Front.

The view is shared by Nicolas Demorand, the managing editor of leftist daily "Libération",  who said that following the election, the French Right was “going to have to take a long hard look at itself” – adding that Bayrou had put himself in a position of strength by making the “honourable” choice to support Hollande.

Left-leaning weekly "Nouvel Observateur", however, was more cynical, saying Bayrou was banking on Hollande’s economic policies failing in the face of the ongoing financial crisis.

Such a failure would vindicate his economic strategy, making Bayrou and his party the only viable alternative for France’s fiscally conservative voters.

“There is absolutely no question of Bayrou wanting to join in a socialist-led government,” wrote columnist Hervé Algalarrondo. “He is convinced that the crisis is far from over and that the Left will very quickly run into financial trouble. And when Hollande is forced to re-draw his economic policies, Bayrou views himself as being the only person able to provide the answers.”


Date created : 2012-05-04

  • FRANCE 24/RFI EXCLUSIVE

    Hollande says Sarkozy has damaged France’s image

    Read more

  • FRENCH ELECTION 2012

    Sarkozy and Hollande trade barbs in heated TV debate

    Read more

  • FRENCH ELECTION 2012

    Marine Le Pen to cast ‘blank vote’ in French runoff

    Read more

COMMENT(S)