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Crucial TV debate could decide French election

Crucial TV debate could decide French election
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The French election faces what president Nicolas Sarkozy calls a “moment of truth” when he comes face-to-face with socialist rival Francois Hollande in a live TV debate this evening.

The two-and-a-half hour verbal joust could turn out to be Sarkozy’s last chance to convince the French public to re-elect him on Sunday.

He is trailing six to ten points behind Hollande in the polls and is the first French president in modern times to have a lost a first-round vote to a challenger.

Analysts think many people are still undecided on which way to vote and much could depend on how the debate goes.

“I’ll watch it because I’m curious,” said one man. “I hope it’ll be a quality debate. My choice will be made depending on how it goes. I hope the debate won’t attract the National Front vote. I hope Hollande will be good.”

“Many people still don’t know who to vote for”, said another.

The influential CSA polling institute in France says Sarkozy needs to swing 1.5m people to his side.

The campaign between the conservative president and his socialist rival has been bitter. Sarkozy has accused Hollande of being “incompetent” and a “liar.” Hollande has called Sarkozy a “failed president” and “a nasty piece of work.”