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The French elections and Turkey 26 mars 2007

Posted by Acturca in EU / UE, France, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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Turkish Daily News

March 20, 2007 Tuesday

There are presidential elections this spring in France, followed by parliamentary elections. Even though there can always be surprises, the presidential elections will probably affect the parliamentary elections. Either way, France, a leading country in Europe as well as the founding member of the European Union, will be discussed in great extent.

Nicolas Sarkozy:

Although the candidates were announced yesterday, the electoral campaigns have not yet officially started. There are three eligible candidates. All are in their fifties. The first is Nicolas Sarkozy, whom we know due to his antagonism towards Turkey. He is a first-time candidate. Known to be a passionate and ill-tempered politician, the current interior minister Sarkozy employs in his campaign a stupendous rhetoric such as his promise for changing the fixed habits and social behaviors of France. He is one of the pioneers of hostility towards foreigners in the country, with his intention to found a new body, « The Ministry of Emigration and National Identity. » Furthermore, he has clearly populist approaches such as his complain that the EU currency, the Euro, is overrated. His hunt for votes remind the story of the barber who put a « shaving is free-of-charge tomorrow » sign in his shop. If he gets elected, it is for sure that he will have a hard time carrying out his promises, and that French society, which is very determined not to change its ways, will give him a hard time. One can expect there will be nothing more abundant than strikes in France.

Segolene Royal and Francois Bayrou:

Another contender is Socialist Party’s candidate, Segolene Royal. She, too, is a first-time candidate. A member of the former French President Francois Mitterand’s retinue, a former minister, and the daughter of a soldier, she is an authoritarian and superficial politician. She, too, speaks of change but, unlike Sarkozy, she does not have the intention to overturn everything like. Her program is befittingly ambiguous and populist.

Another candidate who is much talked about is Francois Bayrou. He was a candidate in the 2002 elections, too. He is the central-right figure. He is a member of the team of the former president and long-time Turkey opponent Giscard d’Estaing. Bayrou targets the voters who have grown tired of Sarkozy’s ill-temper and his flirt with racism, and who is afraid of Royal’s lack of identity. According to some surveys, he has a higher vote potential than Royal. So he is likely to be one of the two candidates who will enter the second round. In this case, the surveys suggest that he will be running against Sarkozy. Not taken seriously until now, Bayrou is testing a left-right equilibrium. Even though his program is as ambiguous as any other politician’s in the center, he has a certain draw.

The candidates have not yet touched upon Turkey’s EU bid. It had become quite an issue in the French public polls during the EU’s new constitutional agreement in 2005. One of the candidates today, Phillippe de Villiers, campaigned in 2005 with the slogan, « No to Turkey. » Having no other trumps than foreigner antagonism, this person can bring Turkey to the agenda once again. However, the essential issue is how eligible candidates view Turkey.

Sarkozy’s tender spots:

Even with his negative known approach toward Turkey, Sarkozy has two tender spots when it comes to Turkey. The first is that, due to his closeness to the United States, he might be influenced by them. The fact that he was brought up by his grandfather, a Jewish man from Thessaloniki, and that he speaks Ladino, means his ties to this land.

Royal has previously supported Democracy Party (DEP) and knows Turkey to an extent. However, she has an ambiguous attitude regarding our EU candidacy, just like in any other issue. When she said they should not exclude Turkey, she did not forget to add, « We desire that the countries engage in Europe’s humanistic values, even if it is in privileged partnership. »

Bayrou, on the other hand, is the politician with the most conscious opposition toward Turkey. He opposes Turkey’s candidacy to the point that he will do anything in his power if he gets elected. We will wait and see.

As a result, now that Chirac has stepped down from political life, it would not be an exaggeration to say that, in France, there are no politicians left who openly support Turkey.


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