Feb. 16 - Campaigning starts in earnest following President Nicolas Sarkozy's announcement on Wednesday night that he is going to seek re-election for a second term. Nick Rowlands reports.
The French media is all abuzz with President Nicolas Sarkozy's announcement that he will seek re-election. Sarkozy, who likened his bid to being a captain who does not abandon his ship in trouble, was slammed for broken election promises by Segolene Royal, the Socialist presidential candidate he defeated in 2007. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FORMER SOCIALIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SEGOLENE ROYAL SAYING: "I found it artificial. Why do I say artificial? Because each word, each sentence, each political intention, was the opposite of what he did and what he has incarnated over the last five years." Marine Le Pen, leader of the hard right National Front, told France Info radio that Sarkozy is weak and has a deplorable record on security, immigration, standard of living, and unemployment. A political analyst says Sarkozy is in a difficult position and is being judged on his past record. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT INSTITUTE OF POLITICAL SCIENCES, CHRISTOPHER BICKERTON SAYING: "Now, the question is how much of the current crisis has to do with his own turn as president, how much it has to do with international dynamics. But that's certainly the tone he is giving to his campaign, is that France has to do certain things in order to survive the crisis and he is the one that can best assure that." Reaction on the streets of Paris was muted. (SOUNDBITE) (French) GUILLAUME SAYING: "It really doesn't change anything. It was clear he was the candidate." (SOUNDBITE) (French) LUDOVIC SAYING: "Last night wasn't exactly a scoop. So I don't think it will really change things." Sarkozy's announcement finally ends the situation in which the President was clearly on the campaign trail, without officially being a candidate. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.