Bayrou wants 'revolution' against left and right

22nd March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 21, 2007 (AFP) - French centrist candidate Francois Bayrou, whose rise in the polls is shaking up the presidential race, urged thousands of supporters on Wednesday to stage a "peaceful revolution" against the parties of the left and right.

PARIS, March 21, 2007 (AFP) - French centrist candidate Francois Bayrou, whose rise in the polls is shaking up the presidential race, urged thousands of supporters on Wednesday to stage a "peaceful revolution" against the parties of the left and right.

The 55-year-old former teacher has emerged from nowhere over the past two months to take the third spot in the race behind Socialist candidate Segolene Royal and frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy, of the governing rightwing party.

"What France needs is for these two parties in power for 25 years to be thrown out of power, out of the comfort of power and the comfort of the opposition," said Bayrou at a packed rally held in a Paris concert hall.

"France needs a peaceful revolution," he said to chants of "President Bayrou" from the audience of some 6,500 people.

The leader of the small Union for French Democracy (UDF) party has gained ground in the campaign with his proposal to set up a national unity government that would bring together moderates of the left and right.

"I say to you it is time to turn the page," Bayrou told supporters at his first major rally in Paris, following weeks of campaigning in the provinces.

"The Socialist Party and the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), they carry the certainty that nothing will really change. Nothing fundamentally," he said.

Many who turned out to hear Bayrou praised his vision of a centrist government and said they too were fed up with France's polarized politics.

"He can unite us," said high school teacher Frederic Monier, 29, from Paris. "He does not use the label of right or left."

Monier said he voted for the Socialist Party in the 2002 election but that he would not support Royal in next month's poll, because he thought her programme lacked precision.

"I want a change and I say why not Bayrou?" said 30-year-old Sebastien Marque, who works in a film studio. 

Marque said he voted for President Jacques Chirac in 2002 but that he would not support Sarkozy, who received the outgoing president's backing on Wednesday. "I just don't connect with him."

The son of a peasant farmer, Bayrou took aim at Sarkozy in his speech, saying he had surrounded himself with "billionaires from the CAC 40" stock exchange and "showbiz celebrities."

The former education minister asserted that "between the candidate who wants France to be like America and the other who wants France to be like Scandinavia, it was time to show that France wants to be France."

In the crowd, 65-year-old Lucien Granero, who joined Bayrou's party six years ago, said he was convinced that the centrist platform was making headway among voters, a month ahead of the first round of voting.

"He is defending humanist ideas and not ideas of a clique," he said.

Antonia Arias, a 35-year-old municipal employee, said she remained undecided, but that Bayrou appeared to be a more palatable choice to her than the two frontrunners.

"There is one who is too sure of himself and the other who is too confused," said Arias.

The latest poll shows Bayrou would win 20.5 percent of the vote in the first round of voting, behind Royal who stands at 25.5 percent and Sarkozy at 29.5 percent.

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

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article