Nicolas Sarkozy’s supporters were delighted with their candidate’s score – especially as six months ago he was widely expected to be knocked out in the first round.
In his speech he made it clear that the fight was a long way from over: “The French have expressed a crisis vote, one that testifies to their worries, their suffering and their anxiety faced with this new world which is taking shape. I understand these anxieties, this suffering. It concerns the respect of our borders, the battle against companies relocating abroad, it’s about controlling immigration, valuing jobs, protecting families. I know that in a fast moving world, our compatriots are worried about preserving their way of life and that is the central question of this election.”
To roars of approval, he went on: “The coming two weeks must enable each and everyone of you to make a clear choice. Everything must be debated, without hypocrisy, without ducking, without equivocation. That is why I suggest three debates should be organised between the two candidates on the themes of the economy, on questions of society and on foreign policy. The French have a right to truth and clarity.”
Later on in the evening, Francois Hollande rejected Sarkozy’s call for three debates, saying there would be only one, which would last “as long as it takes”.