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A duel of barbs in French election

posted 27 Apr 2012, 15:17 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 27 Apr 2012, 15:18 ]

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his socialist opponent Francois Hollande taunt each other while appealing to their bases. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

FRANCE-ELECTION BARBS - French President Nicholas Sarkozy on Friday is putting himself forward as the ideal candidate to lead France while attacking his opponent Socialist Francois Hollande.

Sarkozy has swung hard to the right in the week since National Front leader Marine Le Pen won close to 18 percent of the first round vote.

On Friday he targeted the socialists frontrunner.


"Can you imagine, if you want to be president, and ten days from the election you don't know what your migration policy will be for the next five years? That's bad. Either you really don't know - so then it's a problem of competence, or you know - and it's a question of lack of courage and honesty," said the president, taking a swing at Hollande and his position on immigration.

He spoke about leadership


"I want all the people among you to have the elements needed to make a choice, because you are going to choose the one who will lead the country for the next five years. This is the fifth country in the world, and I know this country. I know how to measure all the duties, all the responsibilities, all the difficulties. We have to be capable to take decisions, of assuming them. We have to be capable of taking them quickly. We have to be capable of standing up. "

Hollande, who is up in the polls ahead of a May 6 runoff, also aimed his barbs at Sarkozy, saying his efforts to woo the far right have gone too far.


"He (Sarkozy) will go looking to the extreme right, that which he is missing. (Audience hissing) He advertised himself as an uninhibited candidate of the right. Now it's not just uninhibited, it's a complete transgression which he is in the process of committing. It's a big drift we can see in the vocabulary, in the themes, in the expressions, on immigration, on Islam, on security."

Sarkozy is the only sitting president in France ever to lose a first round ballot for re-election. If he loses again in the second round, he will be the first president voted out of office in more than 30 years.

Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters