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A Very Important Election in France

April 22, 2007

Today the French are crowding to the polls to cast their votes for a new president to replace Jacques Chirac who is ending his 12 year stint. At stake in the election? A country whose once stunning Catholic face is quickly eroding. A nuclear nation in the midst of an unstable and volatile world. A country struggling with the integration of a burgeoning Muslim population. A shaky economy.

The main candidates?

Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, candidate for the right-wing party UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire), who is chummy with President Bush. Supports lower taxation, pliable labor markets, a U.S.-like socio-economic identity, affirmative action for minorites. Recently, he has spoken out against homosexual unions. Sarkozy has been endorsed by Jacques Chirac.

Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal who has been critical of U.S. foreign policy. Supports market and interventionalist approaches to economics, environmental regulation, the establishment of home-tutoring programs, the creation of programs aimed at parental involvement in education, special eduation support, more flexible paternity leave policies in corporations, and sex-sex marriage recognition before the law. She has been critical of violent programming on television and how it affects children.

Controversial founder of the far-right party Front National Jean-Marie Le Pen. Le Pen supports making access to abortion more difficult or illegal, providing income for women who choose not to work, providing France more autonomy from the E.U., imposing tariffs, and reinstating the death penalty. Le Pen has declared himself “economically right-wing, socially left-wing, and nationally French.”

Intellectual centrist François Bayrou of the UDF (Union pour la Démocratie Française), the only fully practicing Catholic of the front candidates. Bayrou desires to put France in a position to take a greater role in E.U. affairs. He has expressed his displeasure at a de facto two-party system in French politics and has pushed to raise French consciousness of individual liberties. Bayrou has expressed his admiration for President Bill Clinton and the latter’s centrist approach to politics.

It looks as though Sarkozy and Royal are the front runners in the race. Let us pray that, in this time of social, political and religious upheaval in contemporary France, the French choose the best possible leader to guide their honorable country to peace, prosperity and faith.

For constant updates, visit E.U. Politics Today and EuroNews. Also see CNN, MSNBC and FoxNews for differing coverage.

Our blogging friends over at Autrenet have reminded us not to forget the other eight French candidates for president. I suppose the American media tired itself out with its coverage of the “big four”.

Update: Times Online has indicated that early exit polls reveal that Sarkozy and Royal are headed for a run-off set for May 6th.

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