Saturday, April 21, 2007
"Shhhhhh ... "

Some streets are quieter than you'd expect.

'Tis the night before the election and it almost feels like France isn't going to the polls in less than 24 hours. Some streets around the Champs-Elysees are quieter than you'd expect on a Saturday; and because of a campaign blackout before the vote, very little is said about Sunday’s crucial election on the air.

French law forbids candidates from campaigning or the media from disclosing poll numbers for almost 48 hours before the big day. It also threatens fines of some $100,000 to anyone disclosing exit poll results before 8 p.m. local time Sunday.

In my hotel room, I try catching up on the morning's developments. One network is airing a game show, another a decorating program and a third an American series.

No luck on the web either. French Web sites must abide by the same rules. Though French law seems almost archaic, with foreign Web sites, newspapers and television networks saying they will publish results as they please.

Anyone with an Internet connection in France can get around the rules. Twenty-first century technology is making the legislators' job harder.

Still, today, the country’s 45 million voters sound almost like a murmur even though, in a few hours, they will all cast votes that will radically change their country's future.

This is the end of an era in France and for the French. It is the first time since 1974 that none of the candidates running have held the office of prime minister or president.

Goodbye Jacques Chirac and the World War II generation, France is getting a political facelift: Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy on the right, Socialist Segolene Royal on the left and the so-called "third man" Francois Bayrou in the middle. All in their fifties, all promising to bring down unemployment and bring back France’s glory abroad.

But hang on, don't forget the extreme right-wing candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen. One of the last polls published put him in third place, ahead of Bayrou. And because when polled a portion of Le Pen voters do not admit to voting for the National Front leader, some analysts warn he might make it to the second round and shock France in the same way he did in 2002.

No matter who makes it, France is bound to change and French voters are craving a new chapter. Unemployment is high, crime is on the rise and issues like immigration and "national identity" are high on the agenda.

The CNN operation is in full swing to bring you the latest results. We will be anchoring live from the Champs-Elysees in the lead-up to the vote and from 1800GMT with the official results. In a little more than 24 hours, the top two candidates will emerge and break their silence.

From Hala Gorani, CNN International Anchor/Correspondent
Goood morning america!!!
When I read your news, it s seems a new page will be turn today in my country (yes I'm french).
In reality a lot of french people as me think that nothing will really change whoever win this election.
As you wrote, we had a shock in 2002, and we took our responsability at the second turn.
Jacques Chirac was an emergency's president but we re waiting something else : egality and fraternity doesn't really exist any more today ,just liberty to say what we want but nobody to listen ......
world's Economy has broken our hope, I hope France will include some changes to be a new exemple for the world like in 1889.
A new era with three new words : Peace, Humanity, Ecology.
I made a dream......
I cannot wait for the results and I am hoping Nicolas Sarkozy is in ythe lead tomorrow night !!
I think Sarkozy will be the leader of this first round but i HOPE that Ségolène Royal will win (it's possible with the votes on 6 May of the voters of Laguiller, Besancenot, Buffet, Bové, Voynet and all the French who are frightened by Sarko).
There is a blatantly obvious struggle for pro-U.S. global domination versus containment of U.S. expanionism.
It is essential for the Socialists to succeed in France, to help counter U.S. global expansion attempts.
I am an American.
I can't wait for Segolene Royal! Unlike sarkosy shes not inclined to a big u.s like economic strategy. Woot Royal!
Hello/good morning! I heard today that TV channels that are not french could broadcast the results of the election before the official time (8 PM here in France)... Is it true? Are you going to reveal the results at 6 PM? Moreover, is it 6 PM in France or 6 PM in US? Thank you in advance for your answers.
It's a new time for us (i'm french too, please, I appologize for my approximative english...) and this vote can certainly change french's life.
The law who forbiten the poll number 48h before vote isn't "archaic"...! The poll induce in error. We can think about the power of this kind of manipulation, about the influence on the vote ...
There's many differents political ways. Most of french's doesn't want to see Mr Sarkozy (too similar with the leader of extreme right-wing, too "pro-bush"...). But, the real new évent is the fact that a woman like Segolene Royal can give hope, selftrust, and make the contry stronger. She'll win this figth and show a new and beautyful contry's face.
Vive la France !
agreed, france needs a change. socialism is not the answer.
Hopefully the end of French Gaullist hypocricy is coming to an end. France's plan to use the EU to project french power has failed - with the EU now too big for France to control and Germany refinding its identity. The new era will see a more balanced EU, agricultural subsidies / protection may be tackled , helping 3rd World producers. Here's hoping Le Pen doesn't distort the vote too much again.
viva royale!...alles gut fur francaisisher...let the good times royalle...little play on words...a dose of political humor....socialism for france is the best direction...or else the country would surely go down the tube....basically the europeans need socialism across the my experience, there is lacking the ''drive'' which exists in the american capitalists...c'est bonne vie!...
It has been disheartening to watch one of the most pre-eminant societies in world history slide into mediocrity over the last 30 years. One can hope that the people of France vote for what is best rather than what is easiest.
I am hoping Royal will be able to pull off a win for the safety of the world in another George W. Bush (under Sarkozy) administration what this world really needs? I'm american, and not feeling real patriotic at the moment...I hope the French stick with theirindividuality. I admire the way they did not extend support for Bush's war in the first place, and Sarkozy "shaking Bush's hand" makes me nervous for the world in general.
It is not wise to beleive that this election is not crucial. In fact the contenders do differ, Mr. Sarkozy would try shaping France under the American model while Mrs Royal has the hearts of the french since we are sociolist in the saoul yet no tangible program. Mr. Bayrou could be, would be.....but will be never elected. LePen, let us not go there. Cheers from Paris

I'm french too.
Today is indeed an important day for our country, with a new chapter opening after the WWII generation.
We basically have 3 directions to choose from :

-Sarkozy, a business lawyer by trade, and his dream of a neo-con US-like society. He has generated unprecedented polarization and anger in the opinion, much like his friend Bush in the US : you either love him or hate him.

- Royal, the smiling and reassuring face that tries to hide her roots in old school socialism, elite schools, and basically the same old 20th century solutions that obviously don't work in 2007's globalized world.

And then you have Bayrou. A farmer's son and classics teacher, with few conflicts of interest in Paris' business world (unlike Sarkozy), and no old school socialist dogma like Royal.
His aim is to get past the old left/right 2 party antagonism, with one side destroying the other's work for the last 30 years, bringing the country to a stall.
Economically, he's pro small business and realistic about today's world (unlike Royal's socialist friends), yet he's a humanist at heart, and light years away from the cold ruthlessness of Sarkozy that would turn France into just another bland european country aligned on Bush's policies

As you'll have guessed I hope Bayrou makes it to the second round, in all polls he's the only one that can make a wide enough consensus to win a face-off with Sarkozy. Royal would very probably lose, and France would live a very frightening and saddening 5 years.
I don't think Sarkosy's manipulations on medias and populations are the good answer either ; French need a protecting government that will bring hope to the nation's children. Ségolène Royal also brings a new vision of the territory and powers that will, I'm sure, help to the conservation of French democracy and put an and to the political/nationalist identity crisis.

Vive la République
Is Chirac a World War II generation president? It's strange to think America's vision of France is so far from the vision we have. By the way, I didn't notice it was an issue that none the candidates have been Prime Minister or President of the Republic before.
"New example for the world"? Hahahahaha! Come on! Be serious! Do you really believe that your vote, mine, or even the choice of 60 Million people would change anything to the face of the world?
Elections are about choosing reality, not making dreams my dear fellow citizen. And I'm writing this without any sort of animosity, please believe me.
I woke up watching CNN this morning.

CNN has smart independent journalists.

What shocked me is that one of them, interviewing a french spoksman, asked if France wasn't (unlike the UK ) becoming one of Bush's subordinate, it could be a threat to the world...

Now the french government, reflecting the french public, isn't often in favor of the Bush administration,but is still very close, fond and supportive of America, the american people and culture !

I can't wait until people open their eyes and hearts again and believe in the love story that has never ended, and that will never end , between the US and France !
Good luck France... and good luck to you too Nicolas
What about the new voting machines ? We were told a week before the elections that a part of us HAVE to use them ! We were not asked about that, but forced to accept ! Thank you Sarkozy !(whose former services are in charge of controlling the so called machines)
Thank god most of voters will use paper and enveloppes ; let's just hope the machine won't make the diference...
we need strong and growing France, not a socialistic one. Royal will not help the French economy, Sarko will probably do better
the direction of france will be settled by this election. the stagnant economy that has produced so few jobs over the years that has lead to a decline in french influence. the loss of opportunity can spread like a virus robbing a community of its hope, it gets no better than this attitude that drives increases in crime, health, and all other types of social ills. if france wants to have a greater say on the world stage, it must get its ecomonic house in order. as to the american:french axis, it seems both govts have gone out of their way thumbing their noses at each other for as long as i can remember. the truth is that the world is facing dangers every day and no action is just as recipe for failure as misguided action. its time to cut w/ the scoring points against each other and look at combatting the real enemies of democracy and freedom.
bonjour l'Amerique!
Today will be a new page for France. that's the world say...According to me , it should be different if we don't have for second round mr Sarkozy and mrs Royal. Ump and PS had their chance during the last 20 years and nothing have change.
Mr Sarkozy talk about more liberalism and mrs royal take her ideas from nothern country. They forgot one thing : our way to think is not the american way neither sweedish way...
What is really have importance in this election is what France will decide for her part in Europe. Europe without France it's the end of Europe (that's only my opinion of course)....
There is a confusion for french people beetween Europe and liberalism and this election is more a way to answer to our european neighbours ... I hope we ll take the right decision for our futur and for Europe...
France needs some changes, not only the organization of the society but also the ideas of the French people, they should not run away from the fierce competition of the globalization, but to actively face its challenge, to be more energetic and optimistic, yes, they need a leader to lead them out of this dilemma and this atmosphere of depression. Personally, I hope Nicolas Sarkozy win, he will make France energetic and active again, maybe a renaissance and a global glory of France.
Bonne chance, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Good morning France!

This election is, in my view, the most important event in modern european history. Indeed, after the french rejection of the european constitution, Europe became standstill and is now waiting to see who will lead France, and how the president of the French republic will deal with Europe. None of the front-runner candidates, except Bayrou, has addressed this subject.

Also, the main issue is becoming immigration. With free movement between european countries, immigration is becoming a european issue, not only a national one. I think that people will vote for the candidate who will protect their national identity, and, in my view, it is unfortunate. Indeed, each time the economy goes down and the unemployment rates soars, nationalists goes strong(remember what happened in Germany, in 1933), and people find it easy to blame others for their misfortune. I have a dream, but this dream is not French!

Vive la france! Vive la République!
I think it's pathetic and ridiculous that Americans should expect France to align with their often-misguided international policies. The whole anti-French movement that we've experienced in this country since the beginning of the war makes me nauseous. Let's not forget that France is a sovereign country that is led by intelligent people who have a responsiblity to do what's right instead of being the US's lap dog. Americans are often so ignorant and blinded by their naive patriotism that they unfortunately can't understand this simple principle. I am so tired of hearing cheap shots referring to the French government's surrender in 1940. It only shows how ignorant Americans really are. So instead of hoping that France elects a pro-US president, let's instead hope that French people elect the president who will fix their country and choose what's best for France and the French people.

I am an American who had just returned from my vacation in Paris, a vacation I enjoyed very much. I noticed the hubbub about the elections there, and of interest, I saw many of the posters for Sarkozy were defaced, with one person writing "Pro-Bush" over Sarkozy's picture. Well as a long time Pro-Bush member of the Republican Party, I sure hope Mr. Sarkozy wins!
Nothing will change in France whoever wins. France needs many reforms, but is it a reformable country? The French people will take to the streets the minute they will feel their rights/privileges are being threatened. The leaders will once again back down and nothing will be accomplished. France is a very individualitic society where no one is willing to sacrifice for the common good and where so much is taken for granteed. We are now a nation that will soon be the laugthing stock of Europe with countries such a Irelande, Portugal and Greece having a better economic growth. I have yet to see the unemployment rate seriously dropping. I left the country 25 years ago precisely because of the same problems France is still facing today.
Hello America!!

I'm French too! I hope that Sarkozy will win he's like DeGaulle or Napoléon! Segolene Royal is dangerous she want to destroy our economy and she don't like you guys! She has the brain of a chicken!
I'm a member of the French Conservative Party (Mr. Sarkozy's party). Sarkozy is not really a friend of Mr.Bush, he's a friend of the US. Sarkozy say that our two countries are since 1776. But he also said that we are not British, we will not be your dog. He was didn't support the war in Iraq, like 95% of the french, and 85% of the spanish, 96% of the italians.
I hope the French elect Sarkozy. If Royal wins, I believe it is a bad sign for the rest of Europe as well. Europe needs a strong hand internally and needs to understand its own identity. When it comes to social issues, Royal can only promise financial benefits for workers. For a real European vision of our cultures and who we are; the only choice is Sarkozy!
Regarding comments by Anthony F., while I wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be a check on American expansionism, what I find interesting is that an American is requesting for this check from another country. If the system of democracy truely works, shouldn't the citizens themselves be able to influence their govt instead of relying on foreign powers? Or perhaps democracy is not as grandiose as some people brandish it as.
FEAR! I hope american people realise how millions of french are frightening about the (so big) possibility to be gouvern by Sarkozy, a man dangerous and extremist.
Yesterday:31% for Sarkozy, 11% for Le Pen, 3% for De Villiers: 45% french on the extrem right side!
If he's elected, you can wait us on the street, we are the best for that in France!
Royal is absolutely clueless of the world around her. Sarkozy is miles ahead in terms of being a President. Socialism is dead! Enough of the people living off the state. Sarkozy is not stupid enough to sell France off either. Time to reinstate and reinvigorate the state with a smart agenda!
I'm not French, but I sincerely hope Sarkozy wins. France is a nation in danger of falling apart in a generation or two unless serious changes are made. Sarzkozy is the only man that can make some positive impact at this point in time since LePen has no chance of winning.
I am french origine khmer, I hope Nicolas will win.He knows what he does, why he does that way.It is not esay, but he strong menthaly and competent.
Segole, he cheats. What he said not clear. She do not answer at questions. She philosophies!!!.
If she win, she will destroy the futer of France.
She will destroy the economies in 5 years.

And the next step LE PEN will win the election.

And civil war after ...
Hear from CNN reporters across the globe. "In the Field" is a unique blog that will let you share the thoughts and observations of CNN's award-winning international journalists from their far-flung bureaus or on assignment. Whether it's from conflict zone, a summit gathering, or the path least traveled, "In the Field" gives you a personal, front row seat to CNN's global newsgathering team.
    What's this?
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.