French presidential candidates socialist Francois Hollande and centre-right Sarkozy were quizzed on prime-time TV last night, only nine days ahead of a decisive election runoff.
A new rise in unemployment to the highest level since 1999 dealt another blow to Sarkozy’s effort to catch up with Francois Hollande. Sarkozy is on course to become the first French president to lose a bid for re-election in more than 30 years. The TNS-Sofres poll showed Hollande, who won Sunday’s first round, holding a 10-point lead with 55 percent of voting intentions.
Le Pen, who has become a potential kingmaker, sought to extract concessions from Sarkozy before she announces her position on the runoff, challenging him not to block her party’s way in parliamentary elections.
Hollande, who said he understands voters’ exasperation at high unemployment and a widening gap between rich and poor. The prospect of Hollande winning power has sent jitters through financial markets, even though the 57-year-old has insisted he is committed to balancing France’s budget by 2017.