Opinion polls have anointed centrist candidate, François Bayrou, the third man in the French presidential campaign. They suggest that 17 percent of people surveyed plan to vote for him in the first stage of the two round election.
As well, it seems 37 percent were tempted by his promise to make the political right and left work together if he is elected president.
But only nine percent believe he will win the second round on May 6. It is as if his slogan – “For a social economy” – is impossible in a country where the left-right divide is engrained in the culture.
“The political proposal I make in France is based on a programme of rectification, that is a clear and strong programme of bringing together personalities from different camps,” said Bayrou.
This sort of “grand coalition” in the French style is a dangerously confused idea, according to Socialist
candidate Segolene Royal.
She has called out her party’s heavyweights to help bolster her campaign, in particular former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius.
With the new line-up, Royal has rebounded in the polls and now finds her support stands at 28 percent for the first round. It is equal to that of Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative candidate.
The interior minister is a favourite in the polls. They suggest he will just sneak through to the lead in the run-off by a margin of one percent.
In the past few days, the UMP or “Union for a Popular Movement” candidate has been keeping a lower profile than usual. While trying to show off his common touch, Sarkozy has done much to take on the far-right with tough talk on law and order.
Finally, the fourth in line is National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. Polls suggest 11.5 percent will vote for him in the first stage. The far-right candidate has promised to make it into the second round.
He chose to present his campaign platform aimed at boosting his social issues credentials in the working class city of Lille, where he won the most votes in the race of 2002.
But analysts doubt he has much chance of winning this, his fifth and probably last bid for the French presidency.