Sarkozy, Royal Offer French Electorate Stark Choice on Foreign Policy

Sarkozy, Royal Offer French Electorate Stark Choice on Foreign Policy

The two leading candidates for the French presidential elections, whose first round will occur in April, offer the French electorate a clear choice in their differing foreign policies. If elected, either of the two leading candidates -- Nicolas Sarkozy, from the governing center-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) party, and Ségolène Royal, from the opposition Parti Socialiste (PS) -- could introduce considerable changes in French policies regarding the European Union, the United States, and other key issues.

Both candidates have made clear their intention to adopt policies that differ from those of the current French president, Jacques Chirac. Since becoming president in 1995, Chirac has pursued a complex foreign policy. He has challenged the United States on certain issues, most notably the invasion of Iraq, but has also generally supported U.S. policies towards Afghanistan and Iran. Chirac could theoretically seek a third term, but his low polling numbers make this unlikely.

Sarkozy's public statements have been much more pro-American than those of the incumbent president. While acknowledging that France and the United States have had their differences in recent years, Sarkozy insisted during a September 2006 visit to Washington that both countries share values such as democracy, freedom, and other human rights and confront a mutual terrorist enemy that opposes these values. As minister of interior, he has supervised an extensive exchange of counterterrorism intelligence between the two countries.

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