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Alexander Kunev

Primer on France’s 2012 Presidential Election

Although it is only five months from the elections in France, the enveloping European financial crisis and the role France in the monetary union continue to overshadow the presidential race.Just a couple of months ago, the political situation in France looked completely different. The now infamous former head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss Khan (or DSK as he is popularly known) was confidently leading the polls. A longtime member of the Socialist Party and former finance minister, Khan was seen as the heir apparent for the French presidency from people across the left–right political spectrum.Meanwhile, Nicolas Sarkozy was trailing badly in the polls as a consequence of harsh immigration rhetoric, unpopular pension reform and the bad state of the economy. Polls were even predicting that he would fail to reach the second round of the presidential elections to the benefit of Marine Le Pen.As leader of the far-right National Front, Le Pen made a major overhaul to the rhetoric of her party - positioning herself more to the left on some issues and directly criticizing the Socialists. The idea of a National Front leader having a real shot at the presidency shocked the public.But now the situation has completely reversed. After the international media attention concerning the DSK’s sex scandal, his arrest on charges of rape towards a hotel maid in New York is well known around the world. Though eventually acquitted from charges, he was abandoned by many of his friends and lost his chances for the presidency. This opened the door for François Hollande (DSK’s longtime rival in the Socialist Party) to win the open primary of the party and become a serious contender.He had to do this after a tough fight with 5 other candidates – including the leader of the party, Martine Aubry, and… Read More