FRANCE

Six French citizens share their hopes and opinions on the 2012 presidential elections

 As France’s presidential elections quickly approach, we asked our Observers in France to share what issues they would like to see take centre stage during the campaign.

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Photo posted on Flickr by Marsupilami92.

 

As France’s presidential elections quickly approach, we asked our Observers in France to share what issues they would like to see take centre stage during the campaign.

 

Although official campaigning has yet to begin, polls have pegged socialist party candidate François Hollande as the race favourite. With four months to go until the elections, Hollande has come out ahead of outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has yet to declare his intention to run, and rival Marine Le Pen, who represents the far-right National Front party.

 

A final list of candidates will be drawn up on March 19, and campaigning officially takes place from April 9-20. French citizens then head to the polls on April 22 to participate in a first round of voting, before returning on May 6 for the final round.

 

If you would like to share your opinions on France’s 2012 presidential elections, please feel free to post your comments below...

"I wish politicians would talk more about job opportunities for senior citizens rather than retirement"

Dominique Martin is currently unemployed and lives in the Dordogne region.

 

I am among those who are classified as ‘senior citizens’. I’ve been unemployed for two years. I wish politicians would talk more about job opportunities for senior citizens rather than retirement. I would like to hear them provide solutions for developing regions, where economic activity needs a boost and infrastructure needs to be built”.

 

"We need to discuss, without taboo, the Islamification of a society that is supposed to be a secular Republic"

Matthieu Constanzo, 44, lives in the town of Troyes in the Aube region, where he works as a teacher.

 

I can’t stand how hypocritical politicians are. Right now there’s a lot of hype about employment, but is unemployment a new problem? An important issue for me is freedom – the freedom to think, act or protest. I feel like the authorities use things like the Hadopi law [a law against Internet fraud], or the war on terror to control society.

 

Another issue is immigration – how can we maintain our reputation as a host country with the poor are massed at Europe’s gates? We need to discuss, without taboo, the Islamification of a society that is supposed to be a secular Republic.

 

I would like this presidential campaign to be a debate about ideas and not people. We should put an end to the polling and pandering. I would like the candidates to think not of their friends, nor their party, but of France and the French”.

"Reducing the extravagance of the leaders’ lifestyles increasing both salaries and pensions"

Garance du Plessis is a mother of six who lives in the northern Essonne region.

 

Today, I do not belong to any political party. In 2007 I voted for Sarkozy. I really appreciated the work he did as a minister. But since he became President, he’s got a big head.

 

The first policies that I would like to see applied are simple: reduce the extravagance of leaders’ lifestyles and increase both salaries and pensions. It is unacceptable that pensioners are forced to dig through bins to survive in a country that belongs to the G20. There should also be a curb on immigration at a time when unemployment is high.

 

I am worried about my children’s future, which doesn’t look too bright right now”.

 

“I’m sick of the fact that it’s always the same people who are forced to undergo austerity measures”

Alain Bizet, 53, lives in Cire d'Aunis, a town located 25km away from La Rochelle.

 

I’ve been employed by an equipment manufacturer for 34 years and I’m sick of the fact that it’s always the same people who are forced to undergo austerity measures. Some of the candidates have no idea of the reality on the ground. I’m afraid of losing my job, and I’m not the only one in the automobile industry. It’s one job cut after the other.

 

Salaries need to be raised; it is crucial to countering the crisis. It would help increase consumption, get sustainable production back on track, and create new jobs. If people’s wages are raised, then they contribute more to social welfare, which will allow us to maintain our health and retirement programmes”.

 

 

"Young people don’t identify with the racial politics at play”

Pierrick Houee is a secondary school student living in Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine). He will not participate in this year’s presidential election because he is not of voting age.

 

I feel like politicians ignore the country’s youth because it’s a population that does not bring votes. There are a lot of young people who are interested in the economy and the world of politics, but we don’t have any way of engaging.

 

A lot of my friends are disappointed in Sarkozy’s presidency. We don’t identify with the racial politics at play today. For example, when Interior Minister Claude Guéant said ‘French people no longer feel at home in their own country’. We don’t see our generation reflected in these kind of comments, which could be perceived as racist”.

 

"I’m disappointed that we often put form over content"

Sylvain Perret, 37, lives in Paris where he works as a project manager at a major automobile manufacturer. 

 

At times of crises, the public loses confidence in its politicians. And rightly so, when we see how they behave!

 

Today, all it takes is three words, taken out of context, to create a buzz. Yesterday it was François Hollande’s alleged comments, today it’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s radical stance. That’s all that we remember from political debates. I’m disappointed we often put form over content.

 

I would like to see the issue of animal rights be addressed during this year’s campaign. I am also very interested in the state of our healthcare system – 97 percent of spending is used to pay for prescription drugs and curative medicine. Wouldn’t it be better to prevent illnesses rather than have to cure them?”