Press divided over who won presidential debate

3rd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 3, 2007 (AFP) - French newspapers on Thursday were divided as to whether rightwinger Nicolas Sarkozy or socialist Segolene Royal had won the television debate that could determine the outcome of this weekend's election.

PARIS, May 3, 2007 (AFP) - French newspapers on Thursday were divided as to whether rightwinger Nicolas Sarkozy or socialist Segolene Royal had won the television debate that could determine the outcome of this weekend's election.

*sidebar1*"Nicolas Sarkozy did not lose. But Segolene Royal won," wrote the left-leaning Liberation newspaper, describing her performance as "pugnacious, precise and tough."

But the rightwing Figaro daily said Royal had been "often vague, at times aggressive" and that "at the end of the end, Sarkozy's self-control shone through."   

Sarkozy sparred with his rival for two and a half hours on Wednesday evening during a heated debate watched by more than 20 million viewers ahead of Sunday's vote.

Royal, who is trailing in the polls, went on the offensive, attacking Sarkozy as a member of the government in power for the past five years and accusing him of "political immorality".

The popular Le Parisien said the "knives were out" during the tense debate and that the tone quickly turned confrontational.

The surprise last night was that each candidate was cast against type", with Royal going on the offensive from the start and Sarkozy keeping his cool, commented Le Parisien.

Both candidates sought to address their weaknesses during the debate: Royal had to dispel doubts about her presidential stature while Sarkozy faced concerns that his hyper-active personality is incompatible with holding high office.

Liberation's front page showed Royal, her jaw clenched, with the headline "Combative."

"But the large-circulation daily Ouest-France said Sarkozy "came out looking more precise and solid" and that Royal "was still lacking in terms of presidential credibility."

"Neither of the candidates devoured the other. But there was some serious clawing," wrote editorialist Jacques Camus from La Republique du Centre newspaper.

The Republicain Lorrain newspaper wrote that "as the frontrunner, Sarkozy had more to lose than his rival in this joust" and that Royal "had every interest in staging an offensive."

"Fearing a misstep that could have been fatal, Nicolas Sarkozy avoided a cockfight," wrote L'Est Republicain.

"In the end, she was the one who fell into the trap after holding a series of sharp but constructive exchanges on the 35-hour workweek, taxation, education and security."

The financial newspaper Les Echos described the debate as "extremely tense", noting that Sarkozy had singled out her "lack of precision" while she had criticised his "immorality."


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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