France election: Debate test for Sarkozy and Hollande
Published: 2nd May 2012 11:48:15
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is preparing to meet his Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande, in their only debate of the election campaign.
Correspondents agree it is Mr Sarkozy's last chance to regain the initiative in the race after losing to Mr Hollande in the first round last month.
Opinion polls suggest Mr Hollande has a lead of up to eight percentage points.
However, the president is seen as a formidable debater while the Socialist lacks experience of government office.
These debates rarely rescue a failing campaign but they have the potential to surprise, to deliver a defining moment”
Mr Sarkozy is expected to seek to portray his opponent as a dangerous left-winger with reckless spending plans that would wreck France's struggling economy.
It is believed Mr Hollande's strategy will be to take apart the conservative president's five years in office, which have seen France lose its AAA credit rating and the number of jobless people reach four million.
The two men will meet in a TV studio at 21:00 (19:00 GMT) for the debate, which will be broadcast live by several channels, and will reportedly have a maximum running time of two-and-a-half hours.
About a third of France's 63 million people are expected to watch.
An aide to Mr Sarkozy let slip to Reuters news agency that the president would be spending all of Wednesday at home preparing for the debate.
"It's not a contest of words, it's a moment of truth," Mr Sarkozy told reporters earlier.
Christopher Bickerton, an associate professor of international relations at France's Sciences Po university, told Reuters: "Sarkozy is very combative, very pugnacious.
"He can be quite hard with his interlocutors and Hollande has to avoid being seen to be browbeaten."
An aide to Mr Sarkozy told French media the president intended to "flush" the mild-mannered Socialist "out of the woods".
Some good news arrived for the Sarkozy campaign in the form of a new opinion poll suggesting he had cut his rival's lead by one point - but the Ifop poll still had him seven points behind.
French voters interviewed anonymously by the Associated Press news agency welcomed the prospect of the debate.
"Many people still don't know who to vote for," said one. "More than ever this debate could be decisive."
"It's always good to see them facing each other," said another.
"It could reveal a certain number of things. Francois Hollande hasn't said much so far, it will be interesting to see him pushed to the limits and say what he plans to do."
Mr Hollande, an experienced debater himself who prevailed in his party's gruelling primaries last year, is believed to be doing his own preparation for the debate, without a coach.
"It's not a boxing match or a wrestling match," he said.
On Wednesday morning, he joked in an interview that he should be able to "go on the offensive for French people but not to score points in a debate".
Speaking to French broadcasters BFMTV and RMC radio, he restated his controversial pledge to create 60,000 teaching posts in France, saying there would be a yearly target of 12,000 for his presidency.
Accusing Mr Sarkozy of courting far-right voters, he said he did not believe there were too many legal immigrants in France before adding: "There are too many illegal immigrants in France."
If he lost Sunday's election, Mr Hollande said, he would not retire from politics.
Mr Sarkozy has attacked him for refusing to hold three election debates instead of one but there has been just one debate per presidential election since 1974, apart from in 2002 when Jacques Chirac refused to debate with the far right's Jean-Marie Le Pen.
A key moment in Mr Sarkozy's 2007 debate with Segolene Royal - Mr Hollande's former partner and mother of his children - came when he told the Socialist candidate to "calm down". She repeatedly refused to do so, saying some anger was "perfectly healthy".
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. France election: Debate test for Sarkozy and Hollande [Online] (Updated 2nd May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1426004/France-election-Debate-test-for-Sarkozy-and-Hollande [Accessed 31st Jul 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
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