Chirac and Jospin slug out no-score draw


in Paris

In the absence of a clear victor from Tuesday night's live television debate, the teams of France's two presidential contenders were yesterday picking over the entrails, trying to present their respective candidate as the winner.

Franois Baroin, the campaign spokesman for the Gaullist candidate, Jacques Chirac, said that he had put over the image of someone who was "taking charge of the country's destiny", someone "rich in experience and mature, who offered a presidency that would be both strong and measured". Mr Chirac's opponent, the Socialist, Lionel Jospin, he said, had appeared "defensive and imprecise".

Mr Jospin's chief spokesman, Jean-Christophe Cambadlis, said of the Socialist candidate, "a statesman was born last night". He praised Mr Jospin's handling of the debate, saying that he had presented his policies with precision and authority. Pierre Mauroy, a former Socialist prime minister and party elder statesman, said that Mr Jospin had "gained a great deal of credibility" from his performance, while Martine Aubry, a senior member of Mr Jospin's political team, said that Mr Chirac had shown the "incoherence" of his programme.

Outside the camps of the two contenders, however, the two-hour debate, which has become a tradition of the second round of presidential campaigns, was generally seen as disappointing, even boring. It attracted only 16.8 million viewers - just over half the audience for the presidential debate seven years ago - and, despite Mr Baroin's eulogy to Mr Chirac, failed to produce either a sense of theatre or an obvious victor.

The considered consensus of French pundits was that the debate had ended in the equivalent of a "no- score draw". The organisation had been highly professional, the two candidates had conducted themselves in a very gentlemanly and courteous fashion, and both had shown themselves to be well briefed and authoritative, but did not engage with each other sufficiently to make a real fight of it.

Mr Chirac, while successfully exploiting his long experience of high office and statesmanship, was unable to push home this advantage by convincingly blaming Mr Jospin and 14 years of socialism for all France's current ills. Mr Jospin for his part, while mostly more specific in his replies, made some mistakes.

He appeared to lose his briefing notes on Europe and fluffed his reply, and he forgot to talk about equal rights for women at work until his closing statement. He may also have lost votes by failing to offer a clear policy to counter illegal immigration and in enunciating his intention to reintroduce the principle that anyone born in France is automatically a French citizen.

Cognoscenti of the political scene tended to the view that Mr Chirac had gained a marginal advantage; the daily Infomatin, assessing the two candidates on everything from appearance to content, gave him 14.7 points to Mr Jospin's 14.5. Lay people, however, tended to see Mr Jospin as having the edge, saying that they found his preferred solutions more convincing and his manner more trustworthy than Mr Chirac's.

Before the debate, there was a feeling that if Mr Jospin could win, he was still in with a chance of the presidency, but that if he lost, he was out of the race, whereas Mr Chirac simply had to avoid trouble to remain the favourite.

There was general agreement yesterday that the balance of advantage was pretty much the same as it had been before the debate, when Mr Chirac was lying between 8 and 10 points ahead in the polls.

As one commentator said with some relief, "it has put television back in its place". Expressing a similar sentiment, one of the tabloid papers told its readers in a banner headline: "Now it's up to you to decide".

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice