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 French Candidates Heat up

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Registration date : 2007-01-11

PostSubject: French Candidates Heat up   Fri May 04, 2007 9:23 pm

The two candidates vying to become the next president of France have traded barbs on a final day of campaigning ahead of Sunday's run-off election.
Socialist Segolene Royal told a radio interviewer that electing rival Nicolas Sarkozy could spark riots and violence.

But Mr Sarkozy laughed off her attack, describing himself as "serene" ahead of the vote, and blaming Ms Royal's comments on her position in the polls.

Latest polls suggest Mr Sarkozy holds a firm lead after Wednesday's TV debate.

A new Ifop poll for the Le Monde newspaper put Mr Sarkozy at 53%, with Ms Royal trailing with 47%.

Ms Royal visited the western region of Brittany on Friday, while Mr Sarkozy laid a wreath at a war memorial in the Alpine region.

The campaigns end on Friday as voting in some overseas French regions takes place on Saturday.


See the candidates' poll ratings
The latest Ifop poll was conducted on 3 May among 858 people who had watched the often fiery televised debate.

It found that the two candidates' scores were unchanged from the polling company's previous survey before the debate.

There is... still hope for those you think that it is all still to play for

Segolene Royal
Another poll by TNS Sofres for the Le Figaro daily showed Mr Sarkozy nine percentage points ahead of Ms Royal, with 54.5% and 45.5% respectively, up 2.5 points on a previous poll by the same pollster.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt, in Montpellier, says most French voters have now made up their minds, with only 10% still undecided.

Centrist Francois Bayrou, defeated in the first round of voting, has said he will not vote for Mr Sarkozy.

But analysts say Ms Royal's pursuit of Mr Bayrou's "floating" voters has not been a success.

Our correspondent says that although Mr Sarkozy may be a deeply divisive figure, few doubt his competence or ability to get things done and most are now planning to choose the path of reform he has laid out.

'Time for decisions'

Speaking in Brittany, Ms Royal played down the significance of the opinion polls, saying they could not be trusted.

"There is therefore still hope for those you think that it is all still to play for," she said.


Did the televised debate sway many French voters?


In pictures


In a radio interview earlier on Friday, she warned against electing Mr Sarkozy, describing him as a "dangerous choice".

"It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of [his] candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country," she said.

In another interview Mr Sarkozy gently mocked his rival, who he described as "not in a good mood this morning".

"It must be the opinion polls," he added.

Later, Mr Sarkozy visited an Alpine memorial to fighters of the French resistance movement in World War II.

"There is a time and place for explanations and one for decisions, and this is the time and place for decisions," he said afterwards.

Ill-tempered debate

Both candidates held their final big rallies on Thursday, Ms Royal in Lille in the north and Mr Sarkozy at the other end of the country in Montpellier.

HAVE YOUR SAY
None of the candidates are particularly appealing

Guillaume, Brussels


Send us your comments
Mr Sarkozy, 52, promised to unify the nation, re-invigorate the economy and restore full employment. He also defended several of his most controversial comments.

Ms Royal, 53, called for a French rebirth, saying she offered a safe choice for those wanting "a protecting France, a fraternal France, a competitive France".

Their sometimes ill-tempered TV debate on Wednesday, watched by an estimated 23m people, left both claiming victory.

The rivals clashed over employment, the economy and law and order, but opinion polls showed the debate had not reversed Mr Sarkozy's momentum.

Mr Sarkozy won 31.2% of the votes and Ms Royal won 25.9% in the first round of the election on 22 April.
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