Strauss-Kahn launches attack on election eve

15th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 15, 2006 (AFP) - On the eve of the vote for the Socialist Party candidate in France's presidential election, the favourite Segolene Royal was the target of a scathing attack Wednesday from her rival Dominique Strauss-Kahn who accused her of playing to the feminist gallery.

PARIS, Nov 15, 2006 (AFP) - On the eve of the vote for the Socialist Party candidate in France's presidential election, the favourite Segolene Royal was the target of a scathing attack Wednesday from her rival Dominique Strauss-Kahn who accused her of playing to the feminist gallery.

Speaking on Europe 1 radio an indignant Strauss-Kahn, 57, denounced as a "lie" the claim made by Royal before a rally of supporters that he uttered a sexist remark about her after one the three candidates' televised debates.

"I never said anything of the kind. And I find it disgraceful that people can use this kind of argument. Feminism is a noble cause, but you don't grow up by making remarks like that," he said.

Asked if Royal was a liar, he said: "That or she is ill-informed. If candidates are tired, let them rest. I am not tired, and I could not ignore what was said by acquiescently staying silent," he said.

After a speech on Monday Royal, 53, drew hoots and laughter when she quoted Strauss-Kahn, a former finance minister, as saying after a debate on international affairs that "she would have done better to stay at home instead of reading from her recipe-cards."

Royal also resurrected a quote attributed to the third candidate in the socialist race, left-wing former prime minister Laurent Fabius, 60, who allegedly said on hearing of her presidential ambitions: "Who's going to look after the children?"

Royal has four children with her partner, Socialist Party (PS) leader Francois Hollande.

Fabius repeated his denial of the quotation Tuesday. "Those who know me know that I am not a chauvinist," he said.

Some 220,000 card-carrying members of PS vote on Thursday to choose which of the three will be their candidate in April's election against the likely right-wing contender Nicolas Sarkozy, 51.

Royal has a clear lead in opinion polls, but Strauss-Kahn and Fabius hope to force a second round of voting in a week by together forming a blocking majority. The run-off would be between the two leading candidates.

With tensions running high on the last day of campaigning, Strauss-Kahn launched an outspoken offensive against the front-runner -- accusing Royal of producing a series of incoherent and authoritarian policies.

"She has spent the campaign correcting and modifying. In five weeks of campaign there have been five major corrections ... I note that there are 25 weeks till the presidential election," he said.

"To beat Nicolas Sarkozy we need to set out a course which is different from the one he is proposing. If we don't set out a course, if we fall back on 'order', yesterday, the past, if there is no forward looking dynamic, we will lose," he said.

Royal has been accused of producing a series of crowd-pleasing measures which go against PS orthodoxy, such as boot-camps for young delinquents and "popular juries" to monitor elected politicians.

The presidential election takes place over two rounds on April 22 and May 6. Results of the socialist ballot will be known early Friday.

The three candidates were to address their last meetings of supporters Wednesday evening, Royal in Nantes, Fabius in Rouen and Strauss-Kahn in Narbonne in the south.

Leading political commentator Alain Duhamel said in Liberation newspaper that the month of campaigning had brought out unexpected qualities in Royal: "audacity, a determination of steel, a sense of timing, a feel for the questions which people care about."

But it also revealed "major deficiencies in her understanding of issues -- notably international -- and a regrettable propensity for demagogy. For the occasion, she has invented what one could call 'lightweight populism'," he said.

Copyright: AFP

Subject: French news

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