Observers outside of France may wonder what is the story about François Bayrou. The centrist candidate has been patiently building up popular support for a while, mostly ignored by mainstream media. This popular support is now reaching critical mass and suddenly can’t be conveniently brushed aside anymore. The third man is the elephant in the bi-partisan room ! Articles about François Bayrou are now mushrooming in the press and an even better sign is that direct attacks against him are being more frequently mounted by other candidates.

If that sound like an interesting phenomenon to you, you may want to read “French Presidential Elections Turning Point“, the article Demian West has written at Agoravox, a leading site for French political commentary (don’t let the low activity of the English version fool you : the action is mostly on the French speaking side).

Demian West describes the story so far with the eyes of a centrist sympathizer. This is of course a biased view, but it paints very well the hopes of a growing number of French voters with rising odds of handing the French politicians the surprise of their carreers.

Since that article is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial license I reproduce it here in its integrality.

“In the upcoming French Presidential Elections 2007, a huge upset surged in the medias and in the polls. Nobody could foresee the smashing increasing popularity of the candidate of the Centre Party UDF, the so-called “third man” François Bayrou. Last week-end, this change outbroke upon the whole mainstream of the media. Before the change, some of Bayrou’s contenders spoke easily about his “foolish poetry”, or about his “definitive non-existent policy”. As a matter of fact, right and left-wing contenders tried to ridiculise Bayrou, spreading out an image of the centrist party usually lowered by the media and politics head-quarters as a weakened go-between force. Thus traditionally, the Center Party should help and back the greatest right party Sarkozy’s UMP, but the center should never win.

In the meantime slowly but surely, the christian-democrat François Bayrou has moved the campaign at a new stake. Actually, silently he has built a Center Party which seems now totally free and independant. And, that’s the very reason he becomes suddenly a real threat for his two leading contenders Segolene and Sarkozy. Last week, Bayrou surged in the polls, gaining one more point per day, from 15 % to 16 % yesterday and 17% today, according to CSA. In fact, Sarko and Sego (the nickname of the bi-partism leaders) launched tough attacks against Bayrou the centrist leader. In some issues, the socialist candidate Segolene expressed frontly agressive and castigating speeches : “the center stays nowhere at all”, she said. But, one can see remaining residual and adventurous risk in this sort of tough behaviour in the political theater. Because, the socialist left-of-the-left trots’ and the right law-and-order Sarkozy both will need the whole transfer of the Bayrou supports and votes, which are the leading key to open the second round victory out of the ballot-box.

On the other hand, last days the polls announced that Bayrou should certainly win the elections against respectively Segolene or Sarko, in second round race. So, the crushing dilemma is : wether Sarkozy or Segolene could win some points by the bias of hard-criticism against the Centrist candidate ; on the contrary, they could lost one point for each dirty tricks against Bayrou. Because the french people do really show favour to the personality of Bayrou, who stands firmly as a hero between mythical agriculture and classical culture.

Howewer, the french people see Sarkozy as the symbol of the former policy unfresh and unattractive, whose supports are now declining. And Segolene Royal evokes some overwhelming stately figure of François Mitterrand the former socialist President, alike a blatant statue of a great Trotskyist Commandator throwing tormenting fear upon every don juanic frenchman. Nevertheless, the Bayrou’s model is Quinctius Cincinnatus, the republican roman farmer. In the early roman history, the Senate pleaded with Cincinnatus to assume political power and to save Rome. Then, within sixteen days he defeated the Aequi and the Volscians. Finally, he resignates absolute authority and he returns towards his fields as an humble ploughman. This classical gesture became the mythical “exemplum virtutis” or exemple of the best and highest moral virtue, who led french people towards French Revolution in the late XVIIIth century. More, Bayrou is a biographer of Henry the Fourth, the beloved king who reconciliate the Catholic Party with the Protestant rebellion, during the french Renaissance : as the modello of the National Unity.

Undoubtly we are at a turning point in the presidential race, when intimately the humane speech of Bayrou crushed down the huge media-machine of the two former leaders Sego-Sarko. According to the polls, the french people are waiting for some self-confidence in their own history and culture, as the very motor of a real political change. And therefore, they picked up great humane exemples in their rich past. Thus, they want to recover some revival of the “grandeur” of french spirit beyond economic difficulties. Finally, the presidential election seems to deal with some idea of recovering-hope. And the mainstream of reconciliation could flow out of that ballot-box in the center of this political drama”.