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UPDATE: Could presidential election in France affect CETA talks?

The presidential election in France will take place on April 22 (with a run-off date of May 6 should that be necessary).

The Globe and Mail reports, “The European debt crisis wrecking ball is not just destroying economies. It is smashing the careers of government leaders everywhere. Since Greece began its plunge into economic Hades almost two-and-a-half years ago, the prime ministers of Britain, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland have all gone ungently into the night. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy could be next. …He’s on the defensive, trailing in the polls, and faces being trounced by an unlikely candidate, the bland (in comparison) François Hollande of the Socialist Party, while Marine Le Pen, of the xenophobic, anti-euro, extreme right Front National party, is coming on strong.”

“The latest polls put Mr. Hollande leading Mr. Sarkozy by 31 per cent to 23.5 per cent in the spring election. Ms. Le Pen comes in third at 20 per cent, making her a formidable force. Mr. Sarkozy is a good campaigner (he has yet officially to launch his comeback bid), so the next polls may show a narrowing between the two top candidates. Still, Mr. Sarkozy could easily lose.”

In late-January, the Globe and Mail (as might be expected) reported, “French bankers, traders and hedge fund managers should resist the urge to book a one-way flight out of Paris if François Hollande becomes president in May. The French socialist leader has identified the ‘world of finance’ as his main adversary… Tapping into anti-bank sentiment is a popular political strategy. But the wrath of blind punitive socialist justice isn’t about to descend on French finance. In fact the serious reforms Mr. Hollande proposed aren’t particularly scary, and the scary ones he hinted at aren’t serious. …The real concerns raised by Mr. Hollande’s project are not what he proposes to do to finance but what he threatens to do to the economy. Ideas such as the creation of a public investment bank, or big joint pan-European investment projects, smack of old, unreformed socialist interventionism.”

It is not clear at this point Mr. Hollande’s views on the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), but should he be elected as president of France this spring it could have an impact on the signing of the deal expected this June.

In January 2011, we speculated on the reasons behind news reports that the Sarkozy government had been “dragging its heels” on CETA, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=5256.