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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
'Kingmaker' snubs French rivals
Francois Bayrou
Mr Bayrou came third in Sunday's first round of the presidential poll
Defeated French centrist Francois Bayrou has said he will not back either of the remaining candidates in the French presidential election.

Mr Bayrou came third in Sunday's first round with 18% of the vote.

He said he could not back either candidate as their current policies would not be good for the country.

Nicolas Sarkozy, who took 31.2% of the vote, and Segolene Royal - 25.9% - are both standing in the second round of the election on Sunday 6 May.

About 6.8 million voters backed the centrist candidate in the first round of the election and could swing the run-off.

"I will not give any advice on how to vote," Mr Bayrou said at a long-awaited news conference.

When asked what his personal vote would be, he said he had not yet made up his mind.

Mr Bayrou made it clear that he would not take up any offers of ministerial posts in a Segolene Royal government.

New party

He criticised Mr Sarkozy for his closeness to big business and French media barons, and what he called his "taste for intimidation and menace".

As for Ms Royal, he said she might be more of a democrat, but her reliance on the state as the answer to all France's many problems was "not for him".

"Our country has a problem with democracy, a problem of a broken society, a problem of the economy, a problem with debt.

"Nicolas Sarkozy, I believe, will aggravate the problems with democracy and the fractured society. Segolene Royal, through her programme, is going to aggravate the economic problems, and one as much as the other is going to unbalance the deficit and the debt."

Mr Bayrou also criticised both candidates for their plans for higher state spending, at a time he said France could ill afford it - and in the midst of what he called a crisis of government, the economy, the media and the justice system in France.

Mr Bayrou said he had accepted Ms Royal's offer to hold a televised debate, and would do the same with Mr Sarkozy if he asked.

He also announced he would create a new centrist Democratic Party, which will put up candidates in the forthcoming general elections in June.

He had up until now been leader of the right-wing Union for French Democracy (UDF).

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