It may have been France’s first US-style televised debate, but there was little excitement, when the Socialist Party’s three presidential candidates went head to head. Ségolène Royal, favourite of 40 percent of French voters in recent polls, said France needed to invest in new research and support environmentally-friendly industries. “I think that it’s time for the French people to take over the economy and make sure that it is at the service of the human being,” she said.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 57, referred to his previous experience as Finance Minister as he laid out his economic plans. He called for stronger dialogue between government, unions and businesses and said France should lower its public debt. “I’m the candidate who will, at last, bring into play the solutions of a modern social democracy,” he said.
Analysts say former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius may yet be Royal’s main rival, if voting goes to a second round. With only eleven percent support in recent polls, he made a play for public sympathy, and said he would raise the minimum wage after coming into office. He has positioned himself on the party’s left. “If I am chosen as the socialist’s candidate and elected as president,” he said, “I will apply the socialist project.”
The morning after, the majority of French media agreed, there was no winner in the debate. All candidates said they were committed to the party’s political platform, though they differed on details. The Socialist party will vote in a month’s time on who will be its presidential candidate in next April’s elections.