Royal attacks Sarkozy as threat to civil peace

1st May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 1, 2007 (AFP) - Socialist Segolene Royal on Tuesday warned France faces the risk of unrest if rightwinger Nicolas Sarkozy wins the presidential election at the weekend and puts in motion change with "brutality."

PARIS, May 1, 2007 (AFP) - Socialist Segolene Royal on Tuesday warned France faces the risk of unrest if rightwinger Nicolas Sarkozy wins the presidential election at the weekend and puts in motion change with "brutality."

With five days to go before the vote, Royal told some 60,000 supporters at a Paris sports stadium that she was the only candidate who "wants to reform France and wants civil peace in my country."

"We are confronting a risk: the brutality in the conduct of public affairs could endanger social peace and civil peace," said Royal.

"This danger is contained in the programme of the rightwing candidate," she said at the rally attended by some of France's top music stars.

Royal, who wants to become France's first woman president, has been trailing Sarkozy in the polls ahead of the election on Sunday that has been dominated by calls for change after 12 years under President Jacques Chirac.

An Ipsos/Dell survey published Tuesday showed Sarkozy would beat Royal with 53 percent of votes against 47 percent.

Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, has pushed a right-wing programme based on the themes of work and national identity. His tough talk has sparked fears he would divide rather than unite the nation.

It was under his watch as interior minister that the immigrant-high suburbs exploded into rioting in late 2005 and there have been warnings of a flareup.

Royal, an army officer's daughter, has presented herself as a nurturing figure and has proposed a leftist economic programme that would keep France's generous welfare system intact.

In the final stretch of her campaign, Royal charged that Sarkozy was trying to "disguise his record" as a member of the outgoing government and "rewrite history".

"I am committed to reforming France without brutality and without shock," said Royal, adding that she stood for "a France without violence and which embraces its energy to move forward in civil peace."

The 53-year-old former adviser to president Francois Mitterrand spoke of a growing anger among disillusioned citizens and drew a parallel with the May 1968 student protests.

"There is in France today the same type of growing anger, frustration, misunderstanding.  There are millions of people who have the impression that they are worthless," she said.

Royal accused Sarkozy of "dreaming about a new May '68 so that he can restore order" and asserted that she "wanted to create dialogue, democracy, social compromise so that France can move forward".

Before some 40,000 supporters in Paris on Sunday, Sarkozy, 52, railed against "the heirs of May '68", accusing them of ridding France of its values and said he wanted France "to turn the page on May '68".

Royal is to come face-to-face with Sarkozy in a much-anticipated television debate on Wednesday that is expected to be watched by more than 20 million viewers.

Earlier in the day, far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen called on his 3.8 million supporters in the first round to abstain in the runoff, saying that neither Royal nor Sarkozy were up to the job.

"Both of them are official representatives of parties and policies that for the past 30 years have brought France to the brink of a political, economic, social, cultural and moral abyss," he told cheering supporters in Paris.

The National Front leader, who stunned France in 2002 when he made it to the run-off presidential ballot against Chirac, urged his voters to "save their votes" for parliamentary elections in June.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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