Debate over 'debate' dominates French election

Debate over 'debate' dominates French election
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The campaign for the second round vote of France’s presidential election is heating up and one of the defeated candidates from the first ballot is in the fray. Centrist Francois Bayrou has accused Nicholas Sarkozy, the centre-right contender, of applying pressure on broadcasters to block a debate between himself and the Socialist candidate Segolene Royale.

The pair want to have a televised discussion on possible cooperation but TV channels have baulked at the idea citing election rules. Broadcasting authorities have denied ordering networks to drop the debate. But Bayrou said “mysterious pressure was applied to prohibit the debate. I’ll never accept that.”

Sarkozy and Royal are now competing for the centrist party’s votes. In that context the conservative candidate objects to the proposed debate.

He said it was he who should have the broadcast dialogue with Madame Royale: “I’m sorry for Mr Bayrou but there will be no ballot paper for him. I’m sorry for Jean Marie le Pen but there’ll be no ballot paper for him. To make it clear for the French people the debate must take place between those for whom people can vote..”

For her part Royal has said Bayrou’s ideas are closer to hers than Sarkozy’s.

“Francois Bayrou has also evolved during the course of this campaign. When he said he was either a man of the right or a man of the left for electoral campaign reasons, we saw that little by little (there was a change). I followed what he said quite closely found a certain amount of values and principles.”

The second round vote takes place on May 6th. Sarkozy has a small lead in the polls.

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