Royal ahead of Sarkozy, just, in presidency poll

20th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 20, 2006 (AFP) - Ségolène Royal, the Socialist tipped to become France's first female president, is heading the presidential popularity stakes over Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

PARIS, June 20, 2006 (AFP) - Ségolène Royal, the Socialist tipped to become France's first female president, is heading the presidential popularity stakes over Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The 52-year-old mother of four scored 32 percent support in the poll published in the Figaro daily, narrowly ahead of Sarkozy (31 percent).

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who has faced repeated calls to resign over a dirty tricks scandal rocking the centre-right government, scored just four percent in the RTL, LCI, Figaro poll of voting intentions for next year's presidential race.

Jean-Marie Le Pen of the far-right National Front (FN) scored 12.5 percent in the telephone poll of 1.005 people conducted on June 14-15.

Royal, the new darling of the French media whose presidential bandwagon is swift gaining momentum, has recently upset some party traditionalists with her views on employment and crime.

In a text published on her website, Royal said the 35-hour working week, one of the flagship achievements of the last Socialist government in 1998, had had "mixed results for the quality of working life," the main argument put forward at the time for its adoption.

She has also outlined a tough plan to tackle youth crime that broke with the official Socialist position on security — but was approved by a great majority of the public, according to an IPSOS poll published in Le Monde.

Observers note that her public image has changed considerably in the past decade, going from bespectacled academic to designer-clad élégante.

Since the countdown began to the Socialist nomination in November, she has also worked on her voice — shifting from high-pitched, aggressive tones to deeper, sultrier ones, behavioural expert Georges Chetochine told Le Parisien newspaper earlier this month.

"She plays on her beauty — by wearing skirts rather than trousers, a youthful hair-style: who would think she is over 50?"

"She stands up very straight, holds her chin up — which makes her look highly determined and strong-willed. She looks like a women with a mission."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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