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Révolution au Centre

AP

As part of the French electoral game, candidates always seal some sort of alliance -- often secretly -- between the two rounds of the Presidential election. But this time the deals are made openly, and even before the first round, which reinforces the feeling that this election may have something special.

In 2002, French voters expressed their rejection of the traditional political landscape, by bringing extreme right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen to the second round of the election. This time, the "third man" may come from the center: François Bayrou, 55, married, 6 children, pro-European, is said to be the favourite of almost 20% of French voters. Close enough to Ségolène Royal to threaten her qualification for the second round, and strong enough to beat Nicolas Sarkozy, should Bayrou team up with Royal.

That's how, for the first time, some socialist officials have decided to open Pandora's Box, calling for an open alliance with the UDF leader François Bayrou. Two pre-eminent members of the party (former Prime Minister Michel Rocard, and former Kosovo administrator Bernard Kouchner) suggested that socialists and center-right politicians should seal a deal immediately. To make sure that Sarkozy would be defeated, to make sure that the French Socialist party modernizes itself, to make sure that a real change will happen in this country.

Ségolène Royal rejected the proposal, calling it a "baroque" suggestion. So did the head of the Socialist Party, François Hollande. But can they really afford to be picky? Looking at all the polls, Nicolas Sarkozy is the next president. All possible combinations for the second round make him the winner, the only question is to know how big his victory will be.

The survival of the French socialist Party is at stake. If, like Jospin in 2002, Ségolène Royal does not reach the second round, the party will disintegrate. And we can bet that some sort of French new labor will rise from the ashes.

Nicolas Sarkozy knows the danger. Over the weekend, he openly disagreed with his adviser Brice Hortefeux, who was suggesting a deal with the Front National. It's crystal clear, Sarkozy ran back to the center, where the danger is. And from where, this time, the voter revolution could come.