France’s presidential battle may have barely begun but the opening salvoes have already been fired. Socialist candidate Segolène Royal has taken the decision to publish a list of her assets. It is to support her denial that she and her husband Francois Hollande tried to limit their liability for wealth tax. Internet allegations suggested the couple avoided paying money levied on their three properties. A rattled Royal did not mince her words when cornered by reporters:
“We will avoid the insinuations..how can I put it..the UMP’s scum tactics whereby this lie was published to thousands on the Internet,” she said.
Francois Hollande, the Socialist Party Chief, is taking legal action for defamation over the claims. The conservative UMP, of which main rival Nicolas Sarkozy is the head, has rejected Royal’s allegations of dirty tricks. The Interior Minister is enjoying a surge in popular support after announcing his candidature on Sunday while Royal is also defending accusations of splits between her campaign team and party officials.
And this seems to have been reflected by the polls. New research out today suggests Sarkozy would win a second round run-off against Royal, with 52 percent of the vote against 48 percent.