Unpopular Sarkozy launches 'man of the people' re-election bid
A combative Nicolas Sarkozy last night began his re-election campaign, facing the greatest uphill battle of any incumbent French leader of recent times.
In a live television appearance, President Sarkozy presented himself as an experienced statesman and "man of the people" facing an untried, elitist and dangerous Socialist front-runner, Francois Hollande.
Ten weeks before the first round of voting on April 22, Mr Sarkozy (57) is more unpopular than any previous president seeking re-election in the 56 years of the Fifth Republic.
Voter anger has been fuelled by the financial crisis but there is also revulsion at Mr Sarkozy's brash and noisy personality and the largely unproductive zig-zags of his five years in office.
It takes courage, cheek or desperation for an unpopular politician to run a populist campaign. Mr Sarkozy's strategists have concluded this is his only chance of reeling in Mr Hollande (57) and beating off a challenge from the far right in the shape of Marine Le Pen (43). Mr Sarkozy plans a noisy, energetic American-style campaign, based on an appeal to right-wing values such as family, work, discipline, order and national identity.
Mr Hollande is between 28 and 30pc in first-round opinion polls, Mr Sarkozy is at 23 to 24pc and Ms Le Pen at 18 to 20pc. Only two candidates go through to the second round on May 6. (© Independent News Service)