Bayrou takes hits from the left and right

21st March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 21, 2007 (AFP) - French presidential contender Francois Bayrou lamented in an interview published Wednesday that he was coming under a daily onslaught from both frontrunners in the campaign.

PARIS, March 21, 2007 (AFP) - French presidential contender Francois Bayrou lamented in an interview published Wednesday that he was coming under a daily onslaught from both frontrunners in the campaign.

"I have the impression that attacking me is for them a sort of shared programme," said Bayrou, the leader of the small Union for French Democracy (UDF) party.

Bayrou, whose public opinion rating has risen spectacularly over the past month, defended his vision of a national unity government made up of politicians from the left and the right, in the interview to the popular Le Parisien newspaper.

The Socialist Party and the governing Union for a Popular Movement "claim every day that they will never be able to work together, except when it comes to shooting down my candidacy," he said.

A former education minister, Bayrou has climbed in the polls from 14 percent in mid-February to 20.5 percent, behind Socialist Segolene Royal who stands at 25.5 percent, according to the Ipsos/Dell poll published on Wednesday.

But recent polls have showed him holding steady at that level.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate of the UMP who is due to step down from his post as interior minister on Monday, still leads in the first round of voting with 29.5 percent.

But some polls have shown that Bayrou would beat Sarkozy if he were to make it into the final runoff.

In the interview, Bayrou said his call for a government of the center uniting like-minded politicians from the left and right was striking a real chord with voters.

He responded to criticism from the Socialists that he was offering an "illusion" to voters as a rightwinger posing as a man of the center.

"Do you really think that they would be shooting at me like they are if I were an illusion?  I am the only element of renewal and transformation in the political landscape," he said.

Sarkozy on Tuesday criticised Bayrou as a weathervane and political opportunist.

"You think he is on the right, and he has moved to the left. You think he is on the left and he has moved to the right," Sarkozy said during a campaign swing outside of Paris.

"That's not how you lead the world's fifth most powerful country."

The first round of voting in the presidential election is set for April 22 and a runoff is due on May 6 between the two top vote-getters.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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