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Sarkozy, Royal enter French presidential run-off
Latest Updated by 2007-04-23 11:18:23
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Some 44.5 million French voters go to the polls on Sunday for the first round of the presidential election which is seen to be one of the least predictable in history.

Recent portraits of the four main candidates in the French presidential election (Top to Bottom) rightwing leader Nicolas Sarkozy, Socialist Segolene Royal, centrist leader Francois Bayrou and far right-wing leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. (Xinhua Photo)

Right-wing Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal have entered the second round of the French presidential race, first results indicated on Sunday.

Sarkozy won between 30.1 and 30.8 percent of the vote while Royal between 25.2 and 25.9 percent, according to major survey organizations.

Centrist candidate Francois Bayrou was placed at third with between 18 and 19 percent of the vote, followed by far right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen with a disappointing 11 percent.

None of the rest eight contenders got more than 5 percent.

The biggest winners are no doubt Sarkozy and Royal.

Overseas Territories Minister Herve Mariton from Sarkozy's Union of a Popular Movement (UMP), told France 24 television that 30 percent is good results for Sarkozy.

As comparison, President Jacques Chirac won 19.88 percent of the vote in the first round in 2002.

The biggest loser among the four leading candidates is Le Pen. In contrast to this year's 11 percent, he managed to garner 16.86 percent of the vote in the first round in 2002.

Drawing lessons from 2002, when Le Pen unexpectedly made it into the second round with Jacques Chirac, the far right politician chose a spacious reception venue instead of his party headquarters to cater more celebrators.

However, history did not repeat itself and a disappointing Le Pen arrived at the reception 20 minutes after the first results were known while Sarkozy and Royal supporters beamed with joy and excitement in their parties' headquarters.

Bayrou made headway this year compared with 2002 but was unable to qualify for the second round. He got only 6.84 percent of the vote in the first round in 2002.

In a speech to his supporters, a high-spirited Bayrou said that with this year's presidential election, France's politics will never be the same again.

In his speech, Sarkozy went out of his way to woo supporters of Royal and Bayrou, by promising to build a "fraternal France."

He spent much of his six-minute speech on the protection of the disadvantaged and tolerance for diversity, two themes that he would not focus in his campaigning for the first round.

"I want one thing and one thing only: to bring French people together around a new French dream," he told a cheering crowd, "a French dream that is a fraternal republic, in which every one has a place ... where diversity will be considered not a threat, but a wealth."

He mentioned the merits to work. But he emphasized that he would protect the weak from woes such as violence, delinquency, unfair competition and deteriorating working conditions.

"I want to speak to the French people about protection without being accused of protectionism. I want to talk about the French nation without being accused of nationalism."

He said he wants to talk to those people who find life difficult, whose lives have deteriorated, who are in distress, who are sick, who are handicapped, and to the aged.

"I want to give them hope. They're all entitled to hope. I want to tell them that the France I dream about is a France which will leave no one marginalized."  

Royal, in a speech later in her hometown, Melle, 400 km southwest of Paris, vowed to change France "without tearing it apart," apparently to appeal to a conservative ear.

"Let me reach out my hands to you, all of you, who believe as I do that it is not only possible, but also imperative that we should turn our backs once and for all on a system that is spent," Royal told supporters who kept on chanting: "Segolene, president."

"Many of us, men and women today, above and beyond who we have voted in the first round, do not wish to see France governed by the rule of the fittest, the rule of the jungle," she said.

Royal focused on justice, security, education and family. "There is no respect without justice. There is no economic effectiveness if it is not based on social progress."

She said she would insist on just rules to deal with globalization, rejecting "unbridled liberalization."

She also promised to bring back the sense of pride to France in the world.

"Yes, indeed, I call for a republic that is re-thought, that is not grotty, that exercises firm, fair, equitable justice with modernized, upgraded public services," she said.

In an apparent bid to win over votes of other supporters in the first round, Royal said she would be "a guarantor of an impartial state."

"I am hostage to no clan, to no pressure group, to no financial lobby," she said.

According to an IPSOS poll conducted immediately after the unofficial results of the first round were known, Sarkozy will defeat Royal by taking away 54 percent of the vote in the run-off.

However, analysts believe the final outcome is far from being certain.

Mariton, the UMP minister, cautioned that there will be uncertainties in the run-off as supporters of Bayrou may change over to vote for Royal.

Sarkozy may gain from supporters of Le Pen. But Le Pen's support should not be taken for granted as the two men had tension and bitterness in the first round as both had to fight for support of the right-wing voters.

Royal, on her part, can rest assured of support from part of Bayrou's supporters.

The outcome also partly relies on their revised platforms and campaigning in the two weeks before the second round scheduled for May 6.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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