May 3 - French President Sarkozy fights for a second term with polls showing socialist Hollande with the edge days ahead of May 6th vote. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Nicolas Sarkozy entered the race for the French presidency in 2012 as one of the most high profile and occasionally controversial presidents since the Second World War. To his center right supporters he's a decisive leader and statesman who has shepherded France through crisis and war. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY SAYING: "We want big projects for the large country that is France. We don't want jealousy, we don't want egalitarianism, we don't want bitterness, we don't want hatred, we don't want class war. We don't want Socialism." To his critics, his authoritarian style has divided and damaged French society. But possibly all will agree that the man variously dubbed the 'hyper president' or 'president bling-bling' has been one of the most colorful heads of state in France. He was voted into office May 7, 2007 with a healthy 53 percent of the vote. But soon his approval came under pressure. Days after he was sworn in his then wife Cecilia, was gone, leaving the president for an advertising executive who was her former lover. Barely two months after that, Sarkozy started dating his current wife, Italian former supermodel Carla Bruni. A marriage followed that summer and Bruni bore Sarkozy's fourth and her second child. Critics said the episode demonstrated an inappropriate neediness for a head of state with his finger on the nuclear button and charged with representing France on the international stage. Within a year of taking office, the world was hit by a major financial crisis. Sarkozy has staked his bid for re-election on his handling of the crisis. Sarkozy has presented himself as the only true statesman to allow France to punch above its weight on the global stage. He took the initiative by pushing to get NATO involved in Libya, which eventually led to the toppling of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Despite international success he became the first sitting President to lose a first round vote, when he came in second to socialist Francois Hollande. On May 6th French voters will decide whether to give Sarkozy a second term. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.