Royal gets thumbs-up from press after TV grilling

20th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 20, 2007 (AFP) - France's Socialist champion Segolene Royal, who is fighting to revive her presidential campaign, got a welcome thumbs-up from the press Tuesday after her appearance in a two-hour television election special.

PARIS, Feb 20, 2007 (AFP) - France's Socialist champion Segolene Royal, who is fighting to revive her presidential campaign, got a welcome thumbs-up from the press Tuesday after her appearance in a two-hour television election special.

The 53 year-old candidate, who is trailing in the polls behind the right-wing challenger Nicolas Sarkozy, gave a confident performance on the programme "I want to ask you a question", responding to enquiries from a 100-strong studio audience.

Press commentators agreed that the format played to Royal's strengths, allowing her to express her empathy with the problems of ordinary people, though they were uncertain whether she had succeeded in rescuing her dwindling fortunes.

"The programe was not the trap that her colleagues feared. Rather it was like a consultation during which the candidate distributed advice and recommendations, turning politics into a kind of daily medicine. In this Segolene Royal perfectly executed her part," said the left-wing Liberation.

"She was good. Very good .... Royal was playing on her home ground --- she knows these participative debates by heart -- and she carried it off without obvious nerves, despite the enormous pressure weighing on her shoulders," said Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace.

"By bringing the debate whenever she could back on to very emotional ground, Segolene Royal became the 'nanny candidate' who wants to help France escape from its sufferings," said La Republique du Centre.

And La Republique des Pyrenees took up the same theme of Royal as feminine icon.

"The format of the programme gave emphasis to personal experience, and this intially transformed her into a kind of social worker. This was Segolene as mother of the French and of the destitute -- with all the necessary compassion and listening skills," it said.

During the programme Royal repeated many of her campaign promises, pledging to increase low pensions and the minimum wage, end youth unemployment and introduce military style camps for young delinquents.

In an emotional moment she went to comfort a 60 year-old wheelchair-bound man who broke into tears when he recounted his experiences with multiple sclerosis.

Answering a question over her fitness for the presidency, she said, "It's true that it's much harder for a woman, but I think the time has come for France to have a woman as president of the Republic."

Les Echos financial daily noted that Royal promised to be the candidate of "the France of entrepreneurs" but it said she remained vague over how she would finance her programme.

The right-wing Figaro made a similar point. "Throughout the broadcast she distributed her promises -- notably the 'right to a first job' -- while failing to explain how she will pay for them," it said.

More than 25 successive opinion polls in the last month have shown Royal losing to Sarkozy if they face off in the election's decisive second round on May 6. On Monday three new polls gave her 46 or 47 percent compared to Sarkozy's 53 or 54 percent.

Copuright AFP

SUbject: French news

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