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May 4, 2012

France’s Sarkozy in vote appeal as margin narrows

PARIS (Reuters) – Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy made an impassioned final appeal to voters on Friday, saying that a Socialist victory could send France spiraling the way of Greece, as polls showed him narrowing his challenger’s lead two days before the vote.

Final opinion polls put Francois Hollande’s advantage at as little as four points. But Sarkozy faced an uphill battle after Hollande turned in a polished performance in their only television debate on Wednesday, and far-right and centrist leaders declined to back the unpopular president.

May 3, 2012

Sarkozy courts far-right but fails to floor Hollande

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a last-ditch appeal to far-right voters on Thursday, saying they could be decisive in Sunday’s election runoff, after he failed to land a knockout blow in a debate with Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande.

Wednesday’s three-hour televised duel, watched by 17.8 million people out of an electorate of 44.5 million, was billed as Sarkozy’s last opportunity to overturn a poll deficit of six to 10 points, drawing on his skills as an aggressive debater.

May 3, 2012

Sarkozy fails to floor Hollande in French vote duel

PARIS, May 3 (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy
made a last-ditch appeal to far-right voters on Thursday after
failing to land a knockout blow in a heated televised debate
with Socialist rival Francois Hollande before Sunday’s decisive

Hollande, ahead in opinion polls by six to 10 points, was
calm and unflappable during the nearly three-hour debate on
Wednesday while the conservative Sarkozy, struggling to catch up
with the moderate social democrat, was often agitated and tense.

May 2, 2012

Sarkozy, Hollande go head to head in TV debate

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist rival Francois Hollande were set to clash in their only television debate on Wednesday seen as the conservative incumbent’s last chance to turn the odds of re-election in his favour.

Trailing Hollande in opinion polls for Sunday’s decisive runoff despite an aggressive campaign and a lurch to the right to appeal to far-right votes, Sarkozy billed the prime-time debate as the “moment of truth” in the race.

May 2, 2012

France’s Sarkozy approaches TV debate as “challenger”

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy will go into a televised election debate against Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande as a “challenger” as he battles to avoid defeat in Sunday’s runoff poll, a senior aide said.

The conservative president and his centre-left rival have been at each other’s throats for months, with Sarkozy accusing Hollande of being incompetent and a liar, and Hollande calling the incumbent a “failed president” and “a nasty piece of work”.

May 2, 2012

Germanophile tipped as French PM if Hollande wins

PARIS (Reuters) – Jean-Marc Ayrault, the German-speaking leader of the French Socialists’ parliamentary group, has emerged as frontrunner to become prime minister if party candidate Francois Hollande wins Sunday’s presidential election runoff.

Ayrault, a former German teacher and long-time Hollande ally known for his pragmatic approach, has seen his fortunes rise in recent weeks over those of Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry, more of an old-school leftist.

Apr 29, 2012

Sarkozy on defensive in bitter final election battle

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for tougher borders and a stronger national identity on Sunday and accused the left of petty slander as he struggled to catch up with his Socialist rival a week before a presidential runoff.

Sarkozy, who lags his centre-left challenger Francois Hollande by 10 points in opinion polls for the May 6 vote, hammered home a message aimed at the nearly one-in-five far-right voters whose support he needs to win a second term.

Apr 29, 2012

Sarkozy defends himself a week before runoff

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy dismissed as a “disgrace” a report that deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had sought to help him win power, a week before a presidential runoff in which he is trailing his Socialist challenger Francois Hollande.

Struggling to reduce Hollande’s 10 point lead in opinion polls for the May 6 runoff, Sarkozy also slammed accusations from former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Socialists’ presidential favorite before a May 2011 sex scandal, that his downfall was orchestrated by his political foes.

Apr 29, 2012

France’s Hollande says his ideas winning in Europe

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Socialist presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande welcomed Germany’s call for growth measures on Saturday as a sign Europe was accepting his warnings of the risk of austerity.

Hollande, on course to win next weekend’s presidential runoff against President Nicolas Sarkozy, insisted German Chancellor Angela Merkel would eventually accept his proposal to renegotiate a German-inspired budget discipline pact.

Apr 28, 2012

France’s Hollande says will oppose lay-offs after vote

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Socialist presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande said on Saturday he was expecting a wave of lay-offs to follow next weekend’s election, but pledged his government would not stand idly by as companies dismissed their workers.

Hollande is on track to win the May 6 runoff against President Nicolas Sarkozy, due largely to the conservative leader’s failure to meet promises to lower stubbornly high unemployment in the euro zone’s second largest economy.