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France: as election nears, uncertainty persists

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France: as election nears, uncertainty persists


Behind the smile, all is not rosy for Segolene Royal, the Socialist candidate in France’s presidential election, who continues to trail in second position.

Even her partner and the leader of the socialist party Francois Hollande said in a radio interview on Sunday that he could not be sure she would make it through to the second round.

Several heavyweights within the Socialist Party including former health minister Bernard Kouchner have been calling for an alliance with the centrist UDF party which is faring well in the polls.

With just a week to go before the first round, its leader Francois Bayrou – in third position – is more than ever convinced that a majority of voters will chose him.

More than 40 percent of voters remain undecided.

Conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy is still the frontrunner.

He has focussed his campaign mostly on immigration and national identity – issues usually favoured by France’s far-right.

As Interior Minister, Sarkozy forged his reputation as a staunch defender of law and order and pushed through a tough crime reform bill. He has entered the final stretch of the campaign with a renewed promise to crack down on criminals.

As for far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, who shocked the world by making it to the second round in 2002, he believes this will happen again, arguing that his support is widely underestimated in the polls, which place him in fourth position.

An argument echoed by the Socialists who are urging voters to chose Royal to avoid a repeat of the last election.

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