The study, commissioned by EurActiv France and the consultancy Apco Worldwide, was conducted by Opinion Way. It polled 182 opinion leaders in France, working in embassies, the international press, and the private sector.
Hollande victory ‘by default’
52% of those polled predicted an Hollande win as against 46% for Sarkozy. The study found that most believed the Socialist candidate would win “by default,” not because of enthusiasm for his programme, but because of rejection of the incumbent president.
Despite this overall result in Hollande’s favour, those polled considered Sarkozy to be readier to face challenges such as the Syrian crisis (58% for Sarkozy against 30% for Hollande), the eurozone crisis (56% to 28%), the competitiveness and attractiveness of France (52% against 33%), European construction (46% against 35%) and financial regulation (46% against 38%).
The latter has been one of the Socialist candidate’s major campaign themes.
The results differ by group polled. The foreign press believes Hollande is better able to reinforce European construction than his centre-right rival (48% to 39%). Diplomats believe Hollande would be more effective on financial regulation. Business executives polled said they trusted Sarkozy more on all subjects.
Key topics insufficiently debated
In the three categories of people polled, business executives are the most critical of the 2012 presidential campaign. Only 53% consider that the debates have been “interesting” as against 86% working in embassies and 82% in the press.
This number may be due to the relative absence of discussion on economic issues which interest companies in the campaign.
Over 85% of those polled said the euro crisis, deficit reduction and European construction are the three most important issues facing France and should be discussed in the campaign. Only half of those polled considered these topics to have been sufficiently covered in the presidential debates.They also said that immigration, France’s role and place in the world, and the Franco-German relationship have been “sufficiently covered”.
Those polled considered the next French president’s most important issues on the international scene will be France’s opening up to the world and the expansion of its international role, the Syrian crisis, and the eurozone crisis.