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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 22:29 GMT 23:29 UK
French presidential debate: Excerpts
France's two presidential hopefuls, Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal, have gone head-to-head in a TV debate widely seen as a decisive moment before Sunday's second-round vote. Here is a selection of key quotes from the debate.

OPENING STATEMENTS

Nicolas Sarkozy

Segolene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy
Mr Sarkozy and Ms Royal clashed on many issues during the debate

I would endeavour, if the French put their confidence in me, to be a president of the republic who is committed first of all to results. I want results. No more talk, no more declarations of virtual rights but promises to the French of rights that will become a reality: Results.

My ruling passion has a name and that's action. I want to act. And if the French people pick me - whether it's Mme Royal or myself - they'll choose us to act, to take action, to change, to get results. That's my vision of a modern president of the republic.

Segolene Royal

I want to get France out of the situation it's in today ... I want to be the president of the republic who's going to make a France where aggression and violence are in retreat, who's going to make a France that will win the battle against unemployment and a high cost of living, who will also enable inequalities to recede, because I believe that all these kinds of insecurity in daily life - social insecurity - call for new rules of the game, call for a new political system, call basically for more effective politicians than those of the last five years and, no doubt, beyond.

ON TAXES

Nicolas Sarkozy

We're the country in Europe with the highest taxes. The problem of France is that we're paying too much tax, that the charges are too high ... If employment is taxed too highly, employment will go. If capital is taxed too highly, capital will go. If there is no more capital, no more work, there is no growth.

Segolene Royal

On tax, my priority will be a cut in taxes on ecology. I want a significant tax reform on all that has a relation to job creation in the environmental domain.

ON THE 35-HOUR WORKING WEEK

Nicolas Sarkozy

There isn't a single country, Madame, not a single one, Socialist or not, that has followed the logic of sharing work time, which is a monumental mistake. The 35-hours [working week] have not created jobs and the 35 hours were responsible for something even more serious which is wage restraint, which means our wages are too low. That hurts French people's purchasing power, and lower purchasing power means less growth.

Segolene Royal

If you think the 35 hours caused so much damage, why didn't you get rid of them? The very precise response on the 35 hour [work week] is that on this subject, as on others, there will be negotiations between social partners, sector by sector. Either they will agree and there will be the 35-hour [week], or they don't agree and there won't be a generalisation of the 35-hour [week] in the companies concerned.

ON CRIME

Nicolas Sarkozy

I was interior minister for four years. I found a catastrophic situation which, moreover, went a long way in explaining Madame Royal, the defeat of your friends in the government to which you belonged at the time. If in 2002 the French people voted for change, and didn't even qualify the prime minister that you supported for the second round, there must have been a reason for that. The reason, everyone has understood, was that violence and delinquency had exploded, and it was in those conditions that I was named interior minister.

Segolene Royal

In 2002, Mr Sarkozy, you talked about zero tolerance. But today, you can see that the French are very worried about the rise in violence and aggression in French society. The number of violent acts at school has risen by 26%. I want to be the president who creates a France where aggression and violence is receding, a France that will win the battle against unemployment and an expensive life, and that will allow to make inequalities decrease.

ON EACH OTHER

Nicolas Sarkozy

Madame Royal knows well that I respect her talent and competence and I've taken the time to tell her, which caused me a few problems with my friends. I think that she's not got to where she has by chance. The republican system is such that one has to develop great qualities to be the representative of one's own party. I have respect for Madame Royal's career. We have different appreciation and points of view.... she's more a rival than an adversary. I have no personal feelings of hostility towards Madame Royal.

Segolene Royal

I abstain from personal judgements. I think first of all that political debate is a debate of ideas. From that point of view you are a partner in this democratic debate that we're having right now. I think what's important is the choice of society that we represent, the difference of values, the way we plan to exercise power.

CLOSING REMARKS

Nicolas Sarkozy

I want to create that change in France that others have conducted in other countries, so that France remains faithful to its identity. There's no reason why we should not have full employment, that we should not manage to have immigration under control. I want workers to be respected. I want to carry the question of purchasing power. I want to protect the French of companies moving abroad. And I want to tell those who think that life is too hard ... that for me, as a president, everyone will be useful, everyone will have the right to work, everyone will have the right to live in dignity from the fruits of their labour.

Segolene Royal

I also want to address those who are still hesitating. I want to tell them to make the choice of audacity. I know that for some of you, it will not be obvious to say that a woman can incarnate the highest responsibilities. Others are doing it on this planet. There's [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel. So I think it's possible. The fight against all forms of insecurity, violence, precariousness will allow us to build a peaceful France where reforms will be possible without bullying. I will never set the French against each other.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Highlights of the Royal-Sarkozy debate





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