Sarkozy camp insists race not over as France readies for vote
PARIS FRENCH President Nicolas Sarkozy’s camp insisted on Thursday the country’s election race was far from over as top candidates sought to lure a large number of undecided voters.
Polls show French voters are set to turn their backs on Sarkozy after a single fiveyear term and choose Socialist Francois Hollande in Sunday’s first round of the presidential vote and a runoff two weeks later.
But they also show a large portion of voters remain undecided — nearly one in four according to an OpinionWay-Fiducial poll released on Wednesday — and Sarkozy’s spokeswoman said the election was still up in the air.
“The pollsters themselves say they have never seen such an uncertain campaign with so little time to go,” Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told the Direct Matin newspaper.
“The proportion of voters who say they could change their minds is extremely high,” she said.
The right-wing president’s aides have said he needs a victory in the first round to gain momentum and reverse his poll deficit before the May 6 run-off.
But, with three days to go before the vote, most polls show Hollande, a 57-year-old moderate Socialist with no government experience, ahead in the first round and the clear favourite in the second.
Pollsters say 57-year-old Sarkozy has failed to overcome disappointment over his term since 2007, fuelled by his aggressive style and France’s increasing joblessness despite his vows to create wealth and jobs.
The OpinionWay-Fiducial poll showed 24 percent of voters remain undecided and, after a campaign many have described as lacklustre, up to 26 percent of those registered planned not to vote all.
It also showed more than a quarter of voters backing three lower-ranking candidates — far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, centrist Francois Bayrou and the Greens’ Eva Joly — could change their minds before Sunday.
Hollande reached out Thursday to supporters of Communist-backed Melenchon, a former Socialist, noting the “common points” in their platforms.
“You can look at what separates us and you can look at what brings us together,” he told BFMTV. “I was in the same party as Jean-Luc Melenchon, so there are many things that unite us.”