The ten candidates for France’s presidency have six days left to persuade voters: ‘I am the one,’ and the tone seems to be ‘the devil take the hindmost’.
Here are examples of the piques and jabs each has been making.
François Hollande, of the Socialist party, said: “So many unkept promises, so much recklessness, unadmitted failures. This justifies no second mandate!”
That was aimed at the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, of the UMP party, who quipped: “Mr Hollande proposes more civil servants, less working time and more support payments. How do we pay for that? I understand why he has proposed a one-year programme.”
Marine Le Pen, of the Front National party, to an appreciative audience, said: “The wishy-washiest centrist on the planet is Francois Bayrou. He is insubmersible. The left or the right… anyone can ride on his multi-pass.”
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of the Left Front party, surrounded by fans, said: “We must slam the power of the right to the ground, and its leader, who five years ago delivered us such a costly defeat!”
François Bayrou, of the MODEM centrist party, among supporters, said: “They are lying: Sarkozy doesn’t want us to look closely at his track record; and Hollande has chosen to proliferate untenable promises.”
Eva Joly, of the party Europe Ecology – The Greens, in a television discussion, said: “I am somewhat stuck between the limp left that promises nothing and the mad left that promises everything.”
Nathalie Arthaud, of the Workers’ Struggle party, thumping the podium at a party rally, said: “While workers have every reason to loathe Sarkozy, they have no reason to trust Hollande.”
Jacques Cheminade, of Solidarity and Progress, said on radio: “If we buy Bayrou’s mystical budget balancing, we’ll get nowhere in the crisis. And if, like Sarkozy, we say the crisis is over, we’re crazy.”
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, of the Arise the Republic Party, campaigning near a factory, said: “If we had been protectionist with lifts, or the automotive sector, and had rebalanced trade, then we would have defended our jobs.”
Philippe Poutou, of the New Anticapitalist Party, on a television show, said: “I’m on my own here, I haven’t got my mates with me. I’m used to being part of a group. We barge into a bosses’ meeting, we grab them as a group, we go on strike as a group.”
With just days to go before the big poll, it is hard to predict how many voters will turn out. Abstention in 2007 was 16 percent. The record was around 30 percent in the first round in 2002.
Céline Bracq, BVA Institute Pollster, said: “There isn’t the same interest as in 2007. On the other hand, we don’t have the same apathy as in 2002. We will have a relatively high rate of abstention: around 20 percent. But we won’t reach the one third abstention people are talking about.”
Voters can be motivated by campaigns, charisma and personal conviction, so the ten candidates for the French presidency are pushing every button they can ahead of round one voting on Sunday April 22.