Patt Morrison for April 24, 2012

What lessons can President Obama learn from the French election?

World Leaders Gather In Cannes For The G20 Summit

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President Barack Obama is welcomed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the G20 Summit on November 3, 2011 in Cannes, France.

As France’s presidential election heats up between socialist Francois Hollande and conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, what lessons can President Barack Obama, with his own reelection campaign gaining steam, learn from the French runoff?

A article Monday by journalist Sasha Issenberg says the current American commander in chief could learn five lessons from the French presidential race, from life being hard for incumbents such as Sarkozy, to not playing the foreign policy card. Another lesson is to use strength to disqualify an opponent.

Sarkozy, according to Issenberg, has been perceived as a stronger leader than Hollande, as evidenced by voter polls, despite frustration with the status quo in France. In Sunday’s first round of the French presidential election, Hollande came out ahead of Sarkozy, with 28.6 percent of the ballots compared to Sarkozy’s 27.2 percent, with far right leader Marine Le Pen in third place with 17.9 percent.


What lessons can President Obama learn from the current presidential election in France, and Sarkozy’s second place finish in the first round of voting?


Eleanor Beardsley, National Public Radio Paris correspondent

Sophie Meunier, research scholar in Public and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, and the Co-Director of the EU Program at Princeton; she is the author of "Trading Voices: The European Union in International Commercial Negotiations" (Princeton University Press, 2005) and co-author of "The French Challenge: Adapting to Globalization"

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