Center-left newspaper Le Monde backs Royal

3rd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 3, 2007 (AFP) - France's influential centre-left newspaper Le Monde on Thursday endorsed the Socialist Segolene Royal for president, urging French voters to take a "gamble" on her candidacy.

PARIS, May 3, 2007 (AFP) - France's influential centre-left newspaper Le Monde on Thursday endorsed the Socialist Segolene Royal for president, urging French voters to take a "gamble" on her candidacy.

Although it said Wednesday's televised debate between Royal and the right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy, the election favourite, was "not likely to turn the tables" in her favour, it stressed the die was not yet cast ahead of Sunday's vote.

Le Monde argued that a Royal victory would bring a historic opportunity for the French left, giving her "the authority to carry out a vital reinvention" of the Socialist Party (PS), and "find a way out of its ideological dead-end."

"It's a gamble. For the country's sake, it is one worth taking," Le Monde wrote, warning that a Royal defeat would "plunge the PS into score-settling, a return of archaic ideas and negative utopias."

Commenting on Royal's sometimes shaky campaign, it said her chief weakness had been her party's failure to modernise its discourse, but that she "had the intuition to shake up the Socialist order."

While giving the frontrunner Sarkozy credit for rallying voters around a "coherent" programme, Le Monde argued that Royal's plans to kickstart growth by improving labour relations were equally "coherent and defendable".

Arguing that both candidates embodied "two Frances, two visions of society," it drew a contrast between the wealthier, mainly-white public at Sarkozy's main Paris rally this week and the ethnically and socially mixed crowd that packed a stadium in the capital for Royal.

Le Monde strongly questioned Sarkozy's tactic of appealing to far-right votes on themes of immigration and crime and voiced concern that his "American"-style tax policies risked sharpening social inequalities.

It also accused him of a tendency to split voters into camps -- "workers" against "benefit cheats" -- "as if constantly looking for an enemy."

And it echoed the concerns of Sarkozy's rivals over his personal ties with several French media barons, saying it was "the mark of a potential power that calls for the utmost vigilance."


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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