Editorialists appauld historical tunout

23rd April 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 23, 2007 (AFP) - French editorialists applauded the massive turnout in Sunday's presidential first round vote, and the prospect of a clear left-right battle between right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal.

PARIS, April 23, 2007 (AFP) - French editorialists applauded the massive turnout in Sunday's presidential first round vote, and the prospect of a clear left-right battle between right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal.

According to Jean-Marie Colombani, editor-in-chief of Le Monde newspaper, the massive turnout -- some 84 percent -- showed that the French had undergone a "democratic awakening".

"People wanted to wipe out the memory of April 21," Colombani said in an Internet editorial.

He was referring to the 2002 election first round, when huge abstention and a high vote for the political extremes meant that National Front leader Jean-Marie le Pen qualified for round two instead of the Socialist Lionel Jospin.

"The record turn-out shows that people are taking back control of the election. There was a deep desire to get over the April 21 scenario and create the conditions for a real choice between the two most contrasting options -- left and right.

"What it means is that this time there will be no sense of frustration on the eve of the second round. People will have the means to make a clear choice. They will make one, and the country will discover what direction it has chosen, and what direction it must now take," he said.

For Christophe Barbier, editor of L'Express news magazine, "The French wanted so much to have this head-to-head between Royal and Sarkozy -- between a left in the process of renewal and a confident new right."

Barbier said that Sarkozy should have the advantage ahead of the second round run-off on May 6, counting on carry-over votes from far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and centrist Francois Bayrou.

"But nothing is decided. Segolene Royal has one important weapon: the 'Anyone but Sarko' option. We can expect a second round which brings out all his character faults and ideological excesses.

"To which he will reply with serene confidence, and an attempt to show that Segolene Royal is not fit to exercise power," he said on L'Express's Internet site.

"In short -- it's back to where we were at the start of the campaign. Except for one excellent piece of news. The French voted en masse. The passion of the campaign was transformed into passion in the polling booths. And that must count as a major advance for French democracy," he said.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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