Divisions emerge as Sarkozy loses ground in polls

Reports of deep divisions within the President’s camp as he prepares to address supporters at a rally in the heart of Paris

Paris

New doubts and divisions appeared yesterday in the camp of President Nicolas Sarkozy, just a week before the first round of the French presidential elections.

A volley of four opinion polls showed President Sarkozy losing most of the ground gained in recent weeks on his principal rival, the Socialist candidate, François Hollande.

Three polls suggested that Mr Hollande was once again leading the President in voting intentions before the ten-candidate first round of the election a week tomorrow.

All four polls showed Mr Hollande winning the two-candidate second round on 6 May with a landslide of between 57 and 54 per cent of the vote.

Further twists and turns are possible.

Other surveys suggest that the turn-out could be the lowest in the history of French presidential politics, potentially skewing the result.

But the momentum of the campaign, which had been moving somewhat in Mr Sarkozy’s favour, appears to have switched back to Mr Hollande.

There were reports yesterday of deep divisions within the President’s camp as he prepares to address at least 30,000 supporters in a rally on the Place de la Concorde in the heart of Paris tomorrow.

Should he soften the hard-right and populist rhetoric of the last month and appeal to voters of the centre? Or should he continue with a frenetic approach which has thrown up new attacks and new ideas almost every day?

In an interview on live television on Thursday night, President Sarkozy found a surprising new target for his anger - the Financial Times. He also renewed his criticism of the British economy, which he said was “much worse than that of France”.

Mr Sarkozy said he was "delighted" that the Financial Times had criticised his economic record. "The FT has always defended the anglo-saxon model (of light regulation and non-intervention,” he said. “I don’t agree with them...The FT says we should do exactly as Britain does… but Britain's economic situation is much worse than ours". 

Whatever the rights and wrongs of such a claim, Mr Sarkozy risks confusing his own electorate on the French right and centre. Earlier this week he suggested that Mr Hollande’s economic programme would produce a market “melt-down” in a matter of days because it would offend the orthodoxy of London and New York-dominated financial markets.

President Sarkozy has gambled in the last month on a hard-right campaign, in which he has presented himself as the candidate of "the people" and a "silent majority" against an arrogant Parisian media and political "elite".

He has appealed to the voters of the far-right National Front by suggesting that French values and identity faced threats ranging from Islamist terrorism to halal meat.

Mr Sarkozy’s strategy was to build a substantial lead in the first round and then switch to a kinder, gentler message before the two candidate second-round two weeks later.

He began to attract votes away from the NF candidate Marine Le Pen and overtook or drew level with Mr Hollande in opinion polls for the first round (but not the second).

Mr Hollande, who is addressing a big open-air rally on the edge of Paris tomorrow, has also been challenged in the last month by a noisy, hard-left campaign by his former party colleague, Jean-Luc Melenchon.

The Socialist front-runner has held his nerve and may now be reaping the rewards.

He has persisted with his low-key brand of prudent socialism, promising to reduce France’s large budget deficit while promoting growth-creating policies in France and the European Union.

Three of the latest batch of polls suggest that Mr Melenchon’s rise may have peaked and that Marine Le Pen has once again seized third place.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform