Yesterday I spent close to three hours watching the debate between the two finalists in the campaign for the French presidency, Nicholas Sarkozy the current President and François Hollande the candidate of the Parti socialiste. I have to say that in their own way both were impressive, thoroughly in charge of their dossiers, well informed, passionate defenders of their positions and a credit to French politics.There were a number of aggressive exchanges with M.Sarkozy on the defensive but also denouncing Hollande for distorting his position and the facts. M.Hollande mostly effectively repulsed these claims.
I prefer most of the positions advanced by François Hollande though I wish he were much bolder when it comes to escaping from the deadening hand of austerity and deficit hysteria. M.Sarkozy is clearly an embattled President and far too willing out of electoral necessity to shake hands with the devil of ultra rightist anti-immigrant politics in an effort to save his Presidency. He looks as a consequence likely to fall victim to the electoral backlash to prolonged high unemployment, economic depression and public anger over possible corruption and distrust of his bling bling style. But he will go down fighting to the end, a formidable politician of the centre right. The polls still show M.Hollande a decisive victor but the results may well be closer.
The latest rolling poll shows the gap between the two candidates narrowing to 53 % for Hollande to 47 % for Sarkozy a gap of about 1.5 million votes if there are about the same number of voters as in the first round. Still a close election if the polls are accurate.