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Cut their Privileges!

Tuesday, 17 Apr 2007 | 8:48 AM ET
AP

Since this morning, Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal are neck-and-neck again in the race for the French presidency, both credited with 50% of the votes at the second round of the election, according to a CSA opinion poll.

For sure, it's a real comeback for the socialist candidate, with her best score since January. But don’t forget the large majority of voters who are still undecided. Two out of five say that they could change their mind before the first round, and more than 10% still don’t know who they would like to win the election.

From a journalist's point of view, that’s enough to keep the suspense and make the election still exciting. But from a French citizen angle, there are some questions about these undecided voters who, in the end, will make the difference. Either they want to digest the whole political debate before making such an important choice, or they just don’t know who or what they want at all.

If you have a closer look at the qualitative studies -- generally requested by the candidates themselves -- there is a clear disconnection between the ideas and the vote. In short, if a large majority of people say they would back up some social proposals, a majority also say they are likely to vote for a right-wing candidate, from François Bayrou to Jean-Marie Le Pen.

French people are calling for a real change, but rejecting globalization. They feel European, but reject the constitution. They want to cut privileges, but not their own. There is always something strange about French people, some sort of permanent contradiction that our neighbors usually cannot (under)stand. Which, in the end, make me think that the outcome of the election may well be surprising.