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Belin: French Head of State Will Face Dual Challenges

Interviewer: Andrew Hansen
May 3, 2007

Célia Belin, CFR guest fellow and research associate at Le Centre Thucydide, discusses the recent presidential debate in France, the issues at stake, and French perceptions of the two candidates. “It’s a debate about personalities,” Belin says. During the debate, rightist candidate Nicolas Sarkozy wanted to show himself to be “calm and reasonable,” while Socialist Ségolène Royal looked to convince critics that she was “competent and could face up to the challenges” facing France, which include persistent unemployment and security issues involving France’s marginalized suburban population. “Both candidates describe themselves as pro-European,” Belin says, but Sarkozy does not favor expanding the European Union to include Turkey. The president-elect’s victory, she adds, is likely to spill over into the upcoming parliamentary elections, as French voters will want assurances that the new president has strong parliamentary support.

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