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.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
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 Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution