Sarkozy Goes All Sarah Palin

It’s begining to sink in with casual observers (like me) that French President Nicholas Sarkozy is very likely about to lose his job to Socialist Francois Holland. The first round of the presidential election is on Sunday, but in the certain second round against Holland that culminates on May 6, Sarkozy is trailing by double digits in most polls.

Perhaps the biggest sign of imminent defeat is that the incumbent is going all Sarah Palin, lashing out at the elitist left-wing media, even in a speech in a posh Paris suburb:

The incumbent, who is forecast to lose to Socialist Francois Hollande by some 10 percentage points in a May 6 run-off, chose an affluent suburb of Paris to hold his second-to-last rally before voters head to the polls on Sunday.

In a speech that swung between whispers and roars, Sarkozy promised to halve immigration, overhaul France’s unemployment scheme and push the European Union to impose tougher conditions on trade with emerging nations.

But the main thrust of his rally was an assault on opponents in the media and the so-called Parisian “caviar Left”, whom he accused of having decided on the election’s outcome before people had cast their votes.

“(The vote) will teach all those people a lesson like they have never been taught before,” he told some 500 flag-waving supporters, without specifying whether the “lesson” might be his re-election, a higher score than polls give him or something else….

As dark clouds gather over Sarkozy’s chances hours before a campaign blackout from midnight on Friday, the atmosphere among his supporters on Thursday was a blend of cautious hope, combativeness and defiance against the media.

“You journalists should be sitting in the back; you don’t deserve to be in front!” one elderly lady shouted at reporters at the rally in Saint-Maurice, a quaint town of 15,000 with a centre-right mayor.

Oh, brother. This may be a sign of things to come in the second-round campaign, when Sarkozy will be appealing for votes from the supporters of National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, bien sur, or as it might be translated: “You betcha!”

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.