France: Elections, Islam and Scapegoating
Sarkozy wants: “Islam of France, not an Islam in France”
Hollande said he supported France’s ban on face-covering veils and would not allow separate hours in swimming pools for men and women.
Sarkozy: France election too close to call
The two candidates traded accusations in a hot-tempered debate
French President Nicolas Sarkozy believes Sunday’s presidential election run-off against Francois Hollande will be decided by the tightest margin.
The two rivals took part in a heated debate on Wednesday night, watched by an estimated 17.9 million people.
Mr Sarkozy said on Thursday that no election had ever been so “undecided”.
Mr Hollande, who leads in the polls, told French radio that the final days of the campaign and the voter turnout could both affect the result.
The two men are both attending final mass rallies on friendly territory: Mr Hollande in the south-western city of Toulouse and Mr Sarkozy in the southern port of Toulon.
Each man has stepped up his appeals to voters who backed National Front leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Francois Bayrou in the first round.
Ms Le Pen, who attracted 6.4 million voters, said on Thursday that the election was over as Mr Sarkozy was “beaten a long time ago”.
Mr Bayrou, who attracted almost 9% of the first-round vote, is set to announce shortly whom, if anyone, he favours in the second round.
‘It’s a lie’
During Wednesday’s debate, the two candidates traded accusations, with the president calling Mr Hollande a “little slanderer”, while his rival said Mr Sarkozy had shirked responsibility.
“This was a long, scrappy political fight which left the impression that neither candidate liked each other”
The programme, broadcast on TF1 and France 2, was also carried on four other smaller channels, and lasted two hours and 50 minutes, a record for a French election debate.
But the audience was slightly smaller than the 20 million people who watched the event five years before.
Mr Sarkozy defended his record and said he had kept France out of recession while Mr Hollande said France was going through a “serious crisis” and was struggling with slow growth.
The BBC’s Gavin Hewitt says it was a long, bad-tempered debate that left the impression that neither candidate liked each other. But French media suggested that neither candidate had landed a knock-out blow.
Mr Hollande accused President Sarkozy of “ruining the French economy”, prompting his rival to say he had been unfairly blamed.
“It’s never your fault,” Mr Hollande responded, to which Mr Sarkozy said: “It’s a lie, it’s a lie!”
Both candidates accused each other of lying – Courtesy TF1
Much of the debate focused on the economy with Mr Sarkozy pointing to France’s avoidance of recession since 2009, in contrast with many other Western economies. He rounded on Mr Hollande’s proposal to create 60,000 education posts, insisting that France had to cut spending and debts.
Attacking Mr Hollande’s promise to be a “normal” president, he said “your normality is not up to the challenge”.
The rivals attacked each other’s policies on immigration. Mr Hollande said he supported France’s ban on face-covering veils and would not allow separate hours in swimming pools for men and women. the entire article at source