A sluggish economy and a rising popular hostility to conservative President Nicolas  Sarkozy’s “American” style do not bode well for the French incumbent in the coming Sunday vote. Add to that the grim international view of France’s ability to manage its debt, and it is clear that Sarkozy is in the uphill battle of his political career.

Sarkozy and his Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande, are virtually tied in opinion polls for the first presidential vote round, at about 27-28 percent respectively. But to get the highest office, a candidate must collect more than 50% of the votes, and in the second round Hollande is expected to draw a far greater percentage of the rest of the voters.

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Both Sarkozy and Hollande have been pandering to the extreme right and left, respectively, and accused of offering few concrete solutions to France’s economic woes. Sarkozy is pushing an antiquated brand of protectionism in a global economy, while Hollande is promising an increase to 75% in the tax rate for earners of more than 1 million euros ($1.31 million) a year. Neither solution has had much of a track record in rescuing ailing economies.

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