Page 1 of your comments on Europe Diary: A real debate.
I have noticed a strange phenomenon whenever a question is asked of Mme Royal. It would seem that a key word in the question is snapped up by a Google in her memory and a previously prepared waffle-filled speech comes out of her mouth, which includes the key word but in no way answers the question 10 minutes later. Mr. Sarkozy always replies succinctly, although the answer may be unpopular. And I still can't decide whether or not her loss of temper was an attempt to destabilize Mr. Sarkozy. If it came naturally, then God/Mohamet/Jehovah help France if she becomes President and has access to the nuclear bomb button.
Diana, La Tour sur Orb, France
Sarkozy again proved himself to be honest and straight irrespective of the impact of his words on his political career. He sustained his sound understanding by appreciating Royale at times, when she was right. But Royale talked quite vague and her arguments had no association with the real social and economical relaities of France. She intended to be agressive again and again by criticizing and only critcizing without saying a single YES to the logically sound and coherent arguments of Sarkozy.
Usman Javaid, Lannion, France
I still think la Royal speaks to those French who expect everything from the (nanny) state and that Sarko means to represent and support those ready to rely on themselves - as well as those in real need of help.
I also believe Ms Royal can hardly a staisfactory international ambassador for my country
philippe pilato, nice, france
Segolene was too emotional and got carried away. I liked her ideas but you could see she was driven by pure emotion. I think that is why men often ( not always but often) make better politicians than women. They are more rational. Altough compassion and emotions are nice they can be dangerous if used in politics.I see her more as Head of a humanitarian organisation than a President.
Yesterday night Monsieur Nicolas Sarkozy looked like what he really is: a commedia del'arte Iago.
Jean-Louis, Geneva, Switzerland
Knowing that the race is almost 50/50, and however much I don't like to admit it, that I thought Segolene did the better job of appealing to the emotions of her undecided countrymen last night, I would like to propose to any disaffected, hardworking French men, women and families that if she wins, they make their way to the UK, where a bit of hard work is not considered a sin against your fellow countrymen. If she wins, she might as well just declare France a centrally planned economy (which it isn't far from already and with her proposals would virtually become), aka that former glorious economic failure the Soviet Union. For surely France is not far from economic bankruptcy with her in charge, even if she feels she can claim the moral high ground by making sure everyone is 'equal'. To Segolene I would remind her of another Frenchman's famous words, Napoleon (the pig, not the emporer): "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"
Matt, London, England
SEGO was the clear winner on the issues that most exercise les citoyens ,namely societal cohesion,social justice and economic fairness and inclusion.Sarko came across exactly that as superficial,posturing and lacking candour.The second hand car salesman is a fitting epithet,the French will not go far wrong if they back the ephemeral against the just jaded!
N Perrott, Swansea,uk
I was quite impressed by Mr Sarkozy who really did his best to look sincere which is not his style at all, especially when answering the question as to what he thought about Mrs Royal. The claim that she had lost her temper is wrong and a pure strategic move from Mr Sarkozy who's been pointed at for the same reason. The issues that made her flip deserve raising voice. Her reaction has nothing to do with not being able to contain herself. It shows her devotion to her values and convictions as well as her passion which Mr Sarkozy lacks in. I think that both are aware of the capacities of each other which has become their driving force and will prompt them to give their absolut best even after being elected as President. They were both fantastic. However, it's a question of values and preferencies who the French will opt for.
The debate was much better than US Presidential debates (¿one liners¿ and ¿sound bites¿) of recent years. To me it was (to use the baseball analogy) ¿no hits, no runs and no errors¿. They barely talked about the future of the EU, its relation with the US, Russia, China, India, Brazil or the Middle East. What about France¿s role in the global economy? They quickly mentioned Darfur and Iran, but not a word about the other sensitive issues in the middle east.. Mme Royal showed presidential qualities, logic, argument and fighting spirit. What more does she have to prove?
Mo Ahmed, San Juan Capistrano, California, USA
Sarkozy is being congratulated throughout the press for having kept his calm. My 15 year-old nephew is not congratulated for keeping his calm (even though he loses it regularly). Do the French want a man they congratulate for remaining calm as President?
Michael, Paris, France
I watched the entire debate, I was impressed by it's topical quality. I thought Sarko showed himself to be a real "conservative", Sego did really challenged Sarko and therefore won the contest, however it seems to me it would take several "quinquena" for Segolene to achieve what she promesses when Sarko because of he's focus and pragmatism would succeed in quick fixes. Segolene should be the next French President, she personifies my idea of France. Sarkosy is prime minister material and will remain.
Laurent né a Paris, , Ascot, Berkshire, England
Segolene looked Presidential and Sarkozy was careful not to offend the poor and the immigrants. Seems like Ms.Royal is a consensus politician, and will look for advice from her advisors, if she becomes the President. Looks like she needs some experience in Foreign Affairs. Sounds like George W. Bush doesn't it ?
Only difference was he gave the illusion that he could make quick decisions. They could be wrong. I am certain that Ms.Segolene would not go to war after dictators. French armed forces are small enough to avoid such adventures, eventhough they are disciplined and advanced in technology (Mirage Jets and Scorpene Submarines). May be it's good to have a feminine touch in the Presidential Palace. Ms.Royal can certainly show a combative side, when necessary. Her family life is strong. Francois Hollande is always with her if she needs help with the children. I guess that also counts. Britain and US, this would have been a big deal. How she looks on TV is not that important for her job. It's being a President, not a movie actress. P.Jayachandran, Worcester, Massachusetts, 01609, USA.
P.Jayachandran, Worcester, Mass, USA
In an interesting match last night, with high quality play on both sides, the two presidential candidates faced each other before a 20 million audience. Sarkozy entered the game with a couple of points ahead, so decided wisely to defend his goal and not take any risk. No red or yellow cards. Some goals against, but equalling quite easily, almost laconically. Royal on the other hand started with remarkable confidence, occasionally putting up a unexpectedly good game. But obviously she had to come out and go for the winner. Although Royal made a serious attempt to knot the game by taking the offensive, she clearly lacked credibility and flung out of control quite dramatically on the handicapped children issue, deciding the match in favour of Sarkozy. No doubt the cup will be his.
Sanne, Geneva, Switzerland
I watched the debate with my french girlfriend and was shocked at what i saw. Royal seems to have absolutely no clue on how to turn around the french economy and taked about discussions with industry and social partners and she protrayed the 35hr week as vital to be kept. Come on surely the French people wont elect this incompentent glorified social worker.
Funny to notice people are still looking for answers in their politicians. Not even the president of France runs the economy. So, what you should be looking for is an inspirational figure that can bring people together and create an atmosphere of hope. I feel Royal shows much more promise in this respect than Sarkozy, who seems to be a bit of a lone rider.
jan hamminga, barcelona, spain
Watched 90% of the debate. Sounds like Royal will be doing a lot of talking IF elected the next few years and Sarkozy will be making crucial decisions. Sego had quite a lot of attack, little tact and little to no content.
JR Kroeze, REUNION Island, France
Segolene Royal will win the election, because she is more intelligent than Nicolas. Sarkozy was drawn over the table by her. She is right to the presidential job.
Lederle Alfred, Bidingen, Germany
With a temper like that I hope that she never gets her finger anywhere near that nuclear button!
Steve Brickle, Biarritz, France
Last night on TV5 Monde was the first time I've ever watched a pre-election political debate and in French! Well, Ségo LOST HANDS DOWN. Alas, not only did she not get many facts right in her own head, she often never answered the right questions at the right time and her cover-ups at subjects she was not sure about only emphasized her political gaffes. Her uncalled-for aggressivity and multiple attacks at Sarko and her constant interruptions towards him and even at PPDA and his colleague were infantile, at the same time often saying ¿Laissez moi finir ¿¿ when the time allocation was for Sarko. And to finish off, that sweet smile aimed at the camera hoping to sway undecided hearts to swing the vote, what amateurism! If only I could vote ¿ Sarko, you¿re a winner.
Catherine Soo Sim Browne,
Yesterday's televised debate was all about: appearence is reality, especially for Segolène.
Was interested about ideas and confrontation of ideas and visions, but this was confrontation full stop. Was unfortable that Segolène was shifting at certain moment to extrem right concept of society (sécurity, youngsters in the suburbs).
Whoever wins those elections, will have to work to unify the country. I would like to suggest that the new president takes ministers from all main parties to show that the country must be unified to ready itself for the future.
Frank Heydenreich, Paris, France
Segolen Royal was an agressive head social worker, while Sarko was a cool boss who knows his dossiers.
Frred Mort, Melbourne
I personally think that Royal showed more initiative and thorough reasoning for her ideas throughout the debate. Sarkozy came across as being too comfortable. He hardly made any effort to convince the public and seemed arrogant in his "ive already won" posterior. Perhaps France needs a president like Royal who can communicate with the citizens on their level..after all, a leopard never changes its spots and who can forget Sarkozys 'racaille' comment?
Beckie, Blackpool, England
In my opinion Sarko has had the upper hand. I didn't hear any clear answer from Segolene Royale at all on any questions. She's been aggressive from the first minutes instead of explaining her points of view she's been attacking Sarkozy's propositions. But she never gave any alternative solution. Oops my bad she had a proposition: BIG discussions (what a solution sic.) She doesn't know how she will fund her strategy, she might introduce new taxes without knowing how much this will bring to the government (as much as needed that might even be 99% tax if that's what is needed?). This is scary...
I wonder how women feel with the (in my opinion abusing) way Segolene presents women as fragile, needing help... She sometimes acts like an ultra feminist.
If the frenchies are voting for Royale, I'd propose to Sarkozy to come to Belgium he can have my vote :)
David V., Kortenberg, Belgium
Throughout the debate I saw a lot of window dressing from Segolene Royal. Changing her clothes and being more verbally aggressive did not change the 'tell people what they want to hear' tactics. Mr. Sarkozy at least was honest with what he generally felt.
Ashwin Sethi, Westport, USA
What did the right-wingers expect the Royal Lady to look like? A woman filled with fear and unable to challenge her over-dominant husband?
Come off it! She demonstrated what it takes to play a game that men find women either too stupid or unintelligent to comprehend.
Todd Myers, Geneva, Switzerland
Thanks to satellite TV we have been able to watch the election season and the debate here in the States.
The debate was interesting and I think marginally it went to Segolene. Sarkozy reminds me of a used car saleman....he'll tell you anything to get you to buy and then claim not to know you, not to have sold the car, etc, when there is a problem.
He worries me..as he is by nature volatile...and the personna we see these days is quite controlled and soft spoken. I don't trust him... so if he wins, watch for the return of the real Sarkozy!
Joelle, North Carolina, USA
I watched the whole debate last night and thought that Sarkozy was much more convincing that Royal in terms of credibility (style and figures at his fingertips). His voice and choice of words was very professional - never a stutter or 'erm' in contrast to her. The chess-like style clock was a real eye-opener, as was the minimalist role of the journalist chairpersons.
Tony, Northampton, UK
Well, as a Frenchman established in the Republic of Ireland, I am very disappointed by the lack of debate over international questions, as well as the "Franco-French" aspect of the debate, while there are more and more French citizens working and living abroad.
My opinion is that Sarkozy was very effective and focused, providing numbers and solutions, really appearing as a potential president, while Royal was acting in the traditional moralist role of the 80's French left-wing, much drama and not a lot of solutions. But I think we are a bit tired of that...
In the end, you govern and change a country with acts, and not with faked passions.
Francois, Dublin, Ireland
It was a heated debate and a classical exercise of rethorics. As Francois Mitterand said at the end of his debate with Valery Giscard d'Estaing in 1981 "I didn't lose, so I won". The same will apply to Sarkozy. I expected Royal to go for the killer blow but it didn't happen.
From the limited extracts I saw I felt neither had 'presidential' weight. They both came over as physically (and otherwise) rather small. I doubt either will be positive in their relations with 'les rostboeuf' and if we are stuck with Brown for two years then communications will be even worse than they have been over recent years.
At least Blair had some French.
Richard, London W6 UK
Personally I though that, while neither candidate lost the debate, Sarkozy's policies come across as clear and economically sound while Segolene's remain vague and incoherent. She was also unable to stick to the subject in question. Interesting stuff, shame there isn't the same sort of debate and justification of policies in England.
Rebecca, Avignon, France
Though I feel neither candidate has the will nor the right policies for France to reach its policies, it has to be said concerning the debate Ms. Royal's illustrated how she has limited ideas on how to deal with France in the new world of the 21st century. By continuously referring to have future discussions with all stakeholders in order to agree upon any policies or reforms is really weak on her part, her program, and it further exemplifies the fact that she is not up to the task. Furthermore her view on how its up to state to always dictate what direction the French economy will take is a very old and failed view of how an economy works. The French need to be given a chance to breath and develop their own itineraries on how they are going to become more competitive. She obviously does not see the extreme need for France to reform.
Joe, Paris, France
'watched the totality of debate.For me it was a stand-off. The french public (depending on which side of the political fence they stand on) will not interpret the debate the same way. But that is just the point:this debate was meant to catch all the fence-sitters ; i.e. Bayrou's electorate;both opponents obtained the image they sought. No clear winner. Both got in some good jabs and blows. It was an entertaining debate. Neither commanded an overwhelming grasp of the issues. Modern debates since the Kennedy/Nixon debate of 1960 clearly demonstrate alas,the futility of mastering the issue . It is all about image and the debate achieved what each intended to do. The fence sitters shall decide next Sunday.
Iain, Guingamp, Brittany, France
Neither candidate got a clear win but both got what they wanted from the debate. Sarkozy avoided getting angry at Segolene's constant interuptions and didn't look like the scary man he's made out to be. Segolene on the other hand managed to look a bit more substantial and presidential. My money's still on Sarkozy though!
Charlie, Grenoble, France
Well i watched the debate too on TF1 because the sound quality on FR2 was bad.I think when Ms Royal took on Mr Sarkozy he got angry and that's the reason why he couldn't look into cameras thus trying to hide his anger and fustration,Allez(Go)Ms Royal
Yaw Ayewubo, Lille,France
A hat trick for Segolene Royal who has shown to more than 20 million of her fellow citizens she has what's needed to lead France towards a peaceful evolution. Revolutions or ruptures favored by Mr. Sarkozy brought only chaos and grief, just look at the historical record. And for the financial numbers so much praised by right-wingers, is that really that level of details that should be the focus of a president? I do not hink so. As De Gaulle said "l'intendance suivra" (logistics will follow). All the best for Sunday Segolene.
Bruno, Geneva, Switzerland
Watched the debate, thought that Royal wasted her chance to turn the heat up on Sarko. I thought he looked mosly at the presenters rather than elsewhere, but only after Royal's initial tirade and constant attacks. My feeling is he had enough of her avoidance of questions and attitude and didnt want to dignify her tactics? When she continued to try for the last word on business when the discussion had moved on and refused to listen to anyone, thought that made her look bad. Could still go either way but credibility balance has changed
As an American in Paris, I thought the debate went well for both for the following reasons: Ms.Royal finally showed why she was much the better candidate for these times as opposed to the old tired Elephants. She did her best to push Mr.Sarkosy to show his renowned temper but he remained cool if not sometimes diffident. While i thought she looked better than her opponent in this forum, his intelligence of not being pushed to show his emotional side was very wise and will no doubt contribute to his victory Sunday.
jim , paris france
Perhaps the main reason why the French media are so 'kind' to the political classes here is the massive tax breaks the government gives them...registered French journalists (who have to go to an accredited journalism school, none of this working your way up from the local rag mullarky) get free entry to most museums and other venues with their press cards, and pay a lot less tax than ordinary punters - which it seems to me makes them a lot less likely to criticise politicians (it is hard to imagine, for example, Paxman being quite so polite as PPDA - France's best-known news presenter - was to both candidates last night, especially since they were talking rubbish on several occasions!)
Chris, Fontainebleau, France
The wee hard man of French politics has met his match in Sego, who was simply brilliant, comabative, and full of ideas of vision of France for a fair and just society. When Sarko was in power, he failed to deliver his promises. The battle of ideas was riveting as both candidates contrive to offer an alternative society for France. What a pugnacious performance for Royal! For me, the contest was a draw!
PCL.Wing, Derry, UK
This debate was very unusual compared to previous ones. The two candidates were more assertive, interrupting each other occasionnaly and lasted 40 minutes longer than expected. Nevertheless, despite all the rhetoric, nothing new came out: both candidates said the same things they have been telling us throughout their campaign.
I was very disappointed by the fact that so little time was dedicated to foreign affairs, since dealing with these is one of the main roles of the president. They barely talked about the future of the EU, its relation with the US, Russia, China, India or the middle east. They quickly mentioned Darfur and Iran, but not a word about the other sensitive issues in the middle east.
I was surprised by the amount of grammar mistakes both candidates made when they were speaking. I do not remember this happening in previous debates.
Dimitri, Paris, France
I've lived in France for nearly five years now and won't be able to vote, however, if I were, being completely ignorant of any history or surrounding circumstances, I would vote for M. Sarkozy. He was direct, forthright and fluent with facts and policy ideas. Mme. Royal just kept saying "I want" rather than "this is what policy will be" and was very uncomfortable on camera. Both made me laugh with respect to how much they thought nuclear energy contributed to France's energy supply.
Ben Vost, Pessac, France
A real debate about ideas! You must be joking!Just because Mr Le Pen is not involved. After this election many are going to be dissapoited and, one should not be suprised.
These two candidates are the same as in many a recent French election. One of them happens to be a women. Other other puts his foot in it from time to time (something Chirac and Le Pen never did). The debate itself has focused on the traditional French political rounds. Do not expect anything to change after the election, with either of these two "real characters" at the helm!
David Mather, Poitiers, France
Am usually a 'right' thinking person albeit very much more centrist - but i've got to admit here that Segolene Royal subdued Monsieur Sarkozy somewhat during the debate - to the extent that the later even seemed to surrender by granting Segolene Royal the time differential which was in his favour at the end. Score: Madame 1 Monsieur 1/2
I thought the debate was a draw - Royal was committed and impressive but a bit too aggressive and emotional at times. On the other hand Sarkozy was not as engaging as he has been and seemed almost as if he wasn't really trying !
lisa , Paris
My friends and I watched the debate here in Paris. Segoloene definitely looked like she marginally had the upper hand last night. But Sarko has a big problem with the working classes here believing could be a right wing dictator. So, hats off to him for keeping calm. One thing is for sure, Segolene didn't have the statistics or the numbers right in her head. And that's scarey. Sarko was right when he acknowledged that she needs a cool head for the presidential job. Not just emotion.
Segolene will lose the next vote. The passion for the people is great. But she has sold herself using her feminine charm, the "come to mamon" appeal. But that won't cut it here in France. To be a good president, you need to be tough and whatever "sex" card you are trying to play - won't matter. France needs change. Everyone knows it. Passion is good, but concrete strategy and knowing the numbers is better.
I too watched the entire debate on FR2 transmitted here via the cable network. FR2's broadcast was bedevilled by sound problems for the first few minutes, but the positions soon became clear. Sarkozy (not Tsar Cosy, as Mr Mardell will insist upon), remained calm and comfortable until Ms Royal indeed lost her temper. She may have called it being angry, but losing her temper was what she did. This was possibly her downfall, but only the polls will tell on Sunday. Sarkozy came across well, as a real presidential possibility. Ms Royal's lack of eye movement and facial expression made her appear dull, until she lost it, that is.
peter crossley, Kiel, Germany
Interesting debate, although it won't shift the public views a great deal. Fair to say that they both played the other's game to appease the critism they have received. Made a funny mix. Royal looked a lot more up to the task than she ever had in the past. Shame the 2 occasions Sego had a go at Sarko (nuclear and handicapped children)and got quite animated about it, she had her facts wrong. The french radio RTL confirmed this morning that France relies at 80% (Sego said 17% and Sarko 50%) on nuclear energy and that the number of handicapped children attending school has actually doubled under the last government.
Sarkosy looked more on top of his subject.
Patrick Salvi, Sandhurst, UK
Both "slapped" each other around last night but I think that Sarko came out on top purely with his direct answers. Royal can never seem to answer directly any questions put to her. Although I have been living and working in France for more than 10 years and I am still not allowed to vote, my French wife is convinced that Royal has not got what it takes to change France for the better. If anything Sarkozy wants to bring France more in line with the UK...could make for fun politics later on.
Nicholas, Cannes, France
It was certainly a very interesting debate and it's interesting that I saw things so differently that Steve in Bristol. I thought Sarko looked far more sincere than Sego and that Madame Royal was very defensive and using her usual tactic of tugging at the heartstrings.
Watched 75% of the debate (stopped watching when they started battling on nuclear energy without any correct information...), and thought some of less important issues took too much out of the two hours and 40 mn. Sarkozy's strategy to mollify the public with a softer image really backfired since he looked for the first time a bit unsure. Regardless of the accuracy of both candidates, which most voters will ignore, Ségolène won this round... Should be very interesting on Sunday.
Mmmm, I'm wondering if we were watching the same debate? Until I saw them in action I was a Sego supporter, but after the debate yesterday I changed my mind and I am behind Sarkozy.
Sego didn't win this round Jay, she lost it completely. She had no facts and figures, and crucially no ideas of her own - everything was about discussion with social partners, industry etc but very little of it was original thinking. People don't want a lily-livered president who is going to spend her time asking and debating but doing sweet Fanny Adams. They want someone with decisive ideas, who delivers on promises and isn't afraid to make major change - which is what France needs.
As for Sego sounding presidential at the end... please!! it was so insincere. You may not have noticed but she always stands side-on to show her best profile and looks completely ridiculous; it's now a standing joke with French tv viewers.
To BELLA, I have to say that I desagree with you:
French do not want "major change" as you say.
They love their "droit acquis" too much. How do you explain that they alway go and protest in the streets when successive gouvements try to reform the educations, pension, securite sociale, employment...etc...?? How many times the government had to back up in the last few years because of protests by the french people?
Finaly, I find it facinating to read all the comments about on Mme Royal appearance (nothing about Sarkozy new trim...) Anyway she was the only one of both candidate to actually look directly at the camera and talking to the french people "straight in the eye". It is well know that when one lie one avoid eye contact... Mr Sarkozy hasn't looked once at the camera.
I do not believe that it is one President who gone change France, the french need to change their mentality first!
I do like Mme Royal idea of the 6th Constitution though especially the abolition of the "cumul des mandats" and the 49.3!!
I watched the whole debate live with my wife (French) and felt that it was just what we need here in the UK. Sarko was comprehensively outgunned on a couple of occasions - when Sego tore into him with indignation about abolishing her reforms of the rights of handicapped kids to go to school and then at the end - when she spoke clearly and elegantly into camera and sounded Presidential. He sounded like a kid at a job interview, looked shifty and did not look at the camera
steve virgin, Bristol
Typical left attitude on the part of Marie segolene Royal.... Agressive, rude, vindictive when people dare not agree with them .
Thank you to Mr Sarkosy for making it plain that Turkey has no place in the European Union.....Marie segolene Royal as usual could not give a straight YES or NO to that important matter.
May Sarkosy win on Sunday....5 years of an arrogant socialist as head of state will make France truly a third world country.
Indeed Royal first name is Marie, but she is too pompous to use it. she prefers the grand name Segolene....how nouveau riche.How grandiose, typical GAUCHE CAVIAR.
So you don't think two parents should be able to disagree in public? I'm sure Mrs Mardell would have had something to say about your ridiculous appearances on The Politics Show! Or maybe she just reaches for the off button.
David, Poole, UK
For a balanced report - Why no reference to Madame Sarkozy - who appears to have disappeared from the radar?
Your report is typical of the sexism that has haunted Royal throughout her campaign. You suggest that it was more natural to expect that her male partner would make it to the top than she would. Why? How many times does she have to prove herself? You make (erroneous) comments about her appearance. You then comment on her private life but not of that of her opponent, Sarkozy, whose marriage is also rumoured to be in disarray. These snide little remarks, no less sexist for being covert rather than overt attacks on her, have marred her campaign from the outset. By all means, disagree with her economic policies. Acknowledge the times that she has refused to answer questions directly. Criticise her in the same way that you would criticise Sarkozy for being divisive and pandering to the far right. But please, judge her on her ideas and her qualities as a politician, not on her appearance or her private life. It is insulting to her, to women everywhere and to the reputation of yourself and the BBC as journalists.
R Murray, London, UK
Its wrong to say there has been no stealing by Sego and Sarko. Both have stolen from from Le Pen.
So it's Madame Royal but Nicolas, never Monsieur Sarkozy?
John in Dulwich, London
In reply to John in Dulwich: It's remarkable, indeed. The left has been using "Sarkozy" not as a name but as a concept (of everything that's evil). Mr Sarkozy on the other hand has been quite diplomatic about naming his adversaries.
PH, Paris, France