French Language Blog

Hollande Vs. Sarkozy: Get in the Ring! Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Vocabulary

Only three more days to go before we know the name of the leader of France for the next five years.

The close interest paid to this year’s French Presidential Elections, pitting François Hollande vs. Nicolas Sarkozy, seems to go beyond the borders of l’Hexagone (as France is nicknamed, after its hexagonal shape.)

Nearly 18 millions of French people were au rendez-vous yesterday evening to watch the two candidates meet face à face on TV, to confront their ideas “LIVE“: Sarkozy defending le bilan (the assessment) of his five years at the helm of the French Republic, and Hollande putting forward his new propositions.

Many feared the worst a few hours before the debate was launched, especially after media reports relayed the verbal threats leveled by Sarkozy against his Socialist opponent: Je vais l’exploser” (“I’m gonna blow him up”), he allegedly said to his friends!

Of course, telling you in detail all what has been said in yesterday night’s debate would be tantamount to une mission impossible.

That is why today’s post will kickstart a *bullet point summary* of the main ideas and positions defended by the two French candidates, as well as the solutions they suggest in order to solve the tough problems faced by the country: le chômage (unemployment), la crise financière (the financial crisis), l’immigration, and la corruption.

This summary will certainly help you get to know the two French politicians better, get acquainted with the French political system overall, and, last but not least, will be a great French language exercise for you: Improving both your listening and reading comprehension!


  • 00:00:00 – 00:01:30:
    • Hollande:
      • Monsieur Sarkozy, you have not been a President of le rassemblement (gathering): You divided the French according to many criteria: Private workers vs. public workers, “real workers” vs. “unreal workers”, French of native origin vs. French of non-native background, etc. “Nous sommes tous Français” (“We are all French”), and we need all to be united.
  • 00:01:30 – 00:03:10:
    • Sarkozy:
      • My proof that I have been a rassembleur (a gatherer): There was no major violence erupting for the past five years. No mass demonstrations against my reforms, especially les retraites (retirements.) Compare that to the violent reactions spurred by reforms initiated by previous French presidents, such as Mitterrand‘s Mouvement de l’École Libre” (the “Free School Movement”), or the CPI and the CPE under Jacques Chirac. I am actually proud of that.
French demonstrations against le CPE
  • 00:03:10 – 00:04:25:
    • Hollande:
      • Heureusement (Thank God) there was no violence, but that is also due to the action of les syndicats and other social partners who worked very hard to appease the situation.
      • Yes, you introduced tough reforms, but à quel prix (at what price)? More injustice, more inégalité (inequality.) We were patient, we just waited for le suffrage universel (universal suffrage) in order to start changing things around.
  • 00:04:25 -00:06:40:
    • Sarkozy:
      • I may not be the only one who has the merit, but I am not the only coupable (guilty) party either.
      • Speaking about les syndicats: The leader of la CGT broke with objectivity and decency to openly support your campaign.
      • People of your party compared us to Nazis and you never said a thing: Our meetings are said to look like a Nuremberg Rally! I am compared to Spain’s Franco, to le Maréchal Pétain, and maybe to Hitler, why not? I’m called a “Bernie Madoff” by your colleague, deserving 183 ans de prison (183 years of prison), and you never said a thing either! Your silence means that you approve what was said, and even fully endorse it. You are too weak to criticize it.
  • 00:06:40 -00:12:05:
    • Hollande:
      • Monsieur Sarkozyyou’ll have a hard time playing the poor victim here. How about me? How have I been called by your own friends? I was compared to tous les animaux des zoos (all the animals of the zoos.)
      • Should I mention the words that you personally said, which hurt France, which aimed to divide France? It wasn’t one of your lieutenants who said those words, it was you!
      • I condemn all forms of excess. This debate is the best opportunity for us to confront our ideas. No need for either of us to play the victim.
      • So what if la CGT supports me? You too had the leader of le patronat (employers) praising you while criticizing me!
As you can see, the first round of the debate went mostly under the French motto of “pas de quartier” (“no pity”)
Things will heat up even more with the topic of l’ÉCONOMIE… So be sure not to miss the upcoming post:
HOLLANDE vs. SARKOZY: Comics, Economics, or Freakonomics?


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  1. Buy Devere:

    An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I do believe that you need to write more about this issue, Cheers!!

  2. Abdul Brimeyer:

    A rotting fish begins to stink at the head. – Italian Proverb