Corridors of Power: Sarko, Sego and More

CHOICE PARIS ADDRESSES -- Whoever chose the location of French presidential front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign headquarters has a sense of humor. The large, glass-fronted but somewhat rundown Sarkozy center of operations is in the rue d'Enghien, a predominantly immigrant neighborhood in the city's 10th arrondissement. Travel agencies advertise cheap flights to Conakry, Abidjan and Tunis, and the smell of sizzling kebabs fills the air: A strange backdrop for a candidate who has made tightening up on immigration the heart of his conservative campaign.

A large portrait of former interior minister Sarko (to the French) in the entrance hall is visible from the street, and blue banners carry the Sarkozy slogan, which roughly translates as, "Together we can do great things." A sprinkling of French police guard the approaches to the building and patrol the nearby streets, watched warily by Turks and North Africans lounging in the doorways of "Pizza Istanbul" and "Restaurant Afrique."

Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal, it seems, competes with Sarkozy in irony as well as everything else. The exterior of 282 Boulevard Saint-Germain bears no indication that it is her campaign office. The late 19th Century apartment building a few yards from the left bank of the Seine looks no different from its neighbors. This is partly because the classy boulevard bans any display of posters and other political paraphernalia. But critics say there may also be a certain diffidence about the location. Sego (to the French) -- currently running second to Sarko -- wanted to be close to the Socialist Party headquarters, which is nearby, and members of the left wing party have always felt awkward about having such an upper class address.

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