Royal warns of violence as Sarkozy lead grows

4th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 4, 2007 (AFP) - Socialist Segolene Royal warned Friday that France could slide into violence if Nicolas Sarkozy wins the presidency as the rightwinger extended his poll lead on the final day of the hard fought campaign.

PARIS, May 4, 2007 (AFP) - Socialist Segolene Royal warned Friday that France could slide into violence if Nicolas Sarkozy wins the presidency as the rightwinger extended his poll lead on the final day of the hard fought campaign.

Royal, seeking to become France's first woman leader, said she was "issuing an alert" that a Sarkozy victory could "trigger violence and brutalities across the country."

*sidebar1*"His candidacy is dangerous. That is why I am asking voters to think twice," Royal told RTL radio in one of her final declarations of one of the most hotly contested elections in decades.

Three new polls showed Sarkozy pulling ahead of Royal with 53 percent and up to 54.4 percent of votes against 47 and 45.5 percent for the Socialist.

The candidate of President Jacques Chirac's governing party gained between half a percentage point to 2.5 points from polls done before a heated television debate Wednesday evening.

Royal described her rival as "the candidate of the hard right", backed by big media and financial interests and who had been unable to campaign freely in the troubled suburbs.

Sarkozy dimissed Royal's attacks as "outrageous" and said she was upset by her drop in the polls.

"It must be the polls. It's so outrageous," Sarkozy said of her comments in an interview with Europe1 radio. "She is getting tense, stiffer, because she feels the ground shifting."

Sarkozy, the former interior minister, is seen as a divisive figure by many on the left and in the high-immigrant suburbs for his tough talk on controling immigration and restoring law and order.

His description of young delinquents in the suburbs as "racaille" -- "rabble" -- turned him into an enemy of the Arab and African residents of the major cities that exploded into rioting in late 2005.

Royal was to travel to Brittany in the northwest on Friday while Sarkozy headed to Haute-Savoie in the southeast to wrap up campaigning in the election to choose a successor to Chirac.

During his final big rally late Thursday, a triumphant Sarkozy urged supporters to help him "create the conditions for a French rebirth" as he appeared increasingly sure of victory.

He drew ringing applause when he defended his use of the word "racaille" during a rally in the southern city of Montpellier.

"People accuse me of encouraging public anger. But who's angry? The yobs? The drug-traffickers? I can assure you: I do not seek to be the friend of yobs. My aim is not to make myself popular among the traffickers and the fraudsters," he said.

In the northern city of Lille, Royal proclaimed that she wanted to bring deep change to France but without the "brutality" embodied by her rival.

Royal said she preferred "a new France, a protecting France, a fraternal France, a competitive France" she said a day after the crucial television debate seen as a last change to sway voters.

While commentators judged the debate to be a draw, polls showed that a majority of viewers rated Sarkozy "more convincing" than Royal.
 
Royal urged voters to turn out in force at the polls and "show that the polls are lying."

Nearly seven million voters who backed centrist Francois Bayrou in the April 22 first round of the election have been courted assiduously by Royal and Sarkozy ahead of the runoff and are thought to hold the key to victory.

But a TNS-Sofres poll showed that 40 percent of voters who backed Bayrou would vote for Sarkozy compared to 35 percent for Royal. A separate CSA poll said 37 percent of Bayrou voters would back the Socialist and 30 percent Sarkozy.

Sarkozy, 52, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, has pushed a right-wing programme based on the themes of work, national identity and law and order.

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.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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