Francois Hollande charged back into campaign mode Monday with momentum on his side to capture France's presidency, after the Socialist won the most votes in the first round of voting that put him into a runoff with conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.
[...] If Hollande wins the second round, he would become the first Socialist president since 1995. His election could also alter Europe's political and economic landscape at a time when the continent is seeking a clear direction to overcome its calamitous debt crisis.
Polls taken Sunday night continued to show Hollande is likely to best Sarkozy in their head-to-head matchup two weeks from now by around 10 percentage points — in line with the trend of most polls for months.
Actually, their rationalisation is built-in where that ellipse is, to be fair:
However, in the ballot's biggest surprise, nearly one in five voters chose far right candidate Marine Le Pen — and they may hold the key to victory in the decisive vote on May 6.
Sarkozy has likened himself to the captain of a boat in a storm, but his austerity policies and attempts to rein in workers' rights has him floundering like the chair-arranger on the deck of the Titanic.
For example, he has raised the retirement age in France from 60 to 62, and relaxed the very strict rules about a 35 hour work week.
In the face of massive unemployment, particularly of young people, these are idiotic ideas (although, I confess to have defended the retirement age as trifling, but before the unemployment issue came into focus in the wake of the global financial system collapse.)
In other words, the very qualities that would make him the darling of Tea Partiers and other teat-suckers of rightwing whore money here in the States are what created the massive disaster his administration has become, and puts him on the brink of being the first French President since Valerie Giscard d'Estaing (1981) to serve just one term.
Sarkozy, like Romney here in the US, suffers from an huge unlikeability issue: his approval ratings hover near 35%, lower even than Giscard d'Estaing's when he lost to Francois Mitterand.
A fitting bookend to the Bush years, if you ask me.