We are into the final day of campaigning and opinion polling in the French presidential election. The two biggest parties have held their final rally spectaculars, while the two other front-runners have had mixed fortunes. Out in front the right’s Nicholas Sarkozy is sounding personal. “This campaign has been a trial of truth, because meeting the French, month after month, forces you to your limits”, he said to his supporters. Sarkozy has led this race from the start, but with many electors still undecided, he cannot be sure of victory.
Just behind Sarkozy the left’s Segolene Royale is determined she will make the second-round run-off. She had a special guest star at her rally, socialist Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain. “There are just three days to go now, help me, carry me to victory”, she said. “You put me here, now we will win with you”. Royale has struggled to hang onto second spot and is determined to avoid the fate of her predecessor Lionel Jospin, who failed to make the second round five years ago.
Then it was Jean Marie Le Pen who barred the Socialist’s way. This year it may be the centrist Francois Bayrou, who is attracting support from electors fed up with the left and right’s monopoly of power. He has been incensed by one French newspaper editor calling him a “threat to democracy”. “I want to know by what right, and what service Mr. Colombani of Le Monde thinks he’s performing for France, what he thinks he’s ever done in his life, to allow himself to say that it’s imperative for democracy to vote Sarkozy or Royale and not Francois Bayrou”.
The extreme right’s Jean Marie Le Pen looks unlikely to repeat his 2002 feat. He lies fourth, although as he admits many of his supporters are too ashamed to indicate their preferences to pollsters. With as many as 40 percent of voters still undecided, this election appears up for grabs.