Bayrou turns back on rivals


Summary

The decision effectively leaves Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal to fight it out for the crucial votes of his seven million supporters.

He launched a scathing attack on both candidates, savaging Royal’s socialist economic program but reserving his strongest language for the right-winger Sarkozy.

Bayrou describes Sarkozy as a danger to democracy.

“With his close links to the business world and media powers, his taste for intimidation and threat, Nicolas Sarkozy will concentrate powers as never before,” said Bayrou, 55, drawing a parallel between Sarkozy and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

“By his character and the themes he has chosen to stir up, he risks aggravating our social divide through policies that benefit the richest,” he told a press conference.

While crediting Royal with having “better intentions” in terms of democracy and being “more attentive” on social issues, Bayrou slated the specifics of her campaign platform.

“Her program is full of state intervention, perpetuating the illusion that it is up to the state to do everything, that it can do everything.

“Her program runs exactly counter to the direction needed to give our country back its creativity and economic stability,” he said.

Both candidates were set to drive up French debt and deficit by promising “a totally wild increase in public spending”, and in Sarkozy’s case deep tax cuts, at a time when the country can ill afford it, he said.

Bayrou was the surprise “third winner” of Sunday’s multi-candidate stage of the election, his 18.7 per cent of the vote giving a major boost to his political credibility.

With presidential victory hinging on the Bayrou electorate, Sarkozy and Royal have both been sending out feelers to his centrist camp – with hints of future cooperation and ministerial posts.

Bayrou, who currently heads the small Union for French Democracy (UDF), ruled out an alliance with either and said he was setting up a new centrist party to contest legislative elections on June 10 and 17.

He said the new Democrat Party “will be independent, free-speaking, and devoted to the defence of citizens, unfazed by threats or the temptations of power.”

France is choosing a successor to 74 year-old Jacques Chirac – president since 1995 – in an election that has become the focus of impassioned debate about the country’s future direction.

Many undecided Bayrou voters were waiting for the televised debate on May 2 between Royal and Sarkozy before deciding who – if either – to vote for.


The decision effectively leaves Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal to fight it out for the crucial votes of his seven million supporters.

He launched a scathing attack on both candidates, savaging Royal’s socialist economic program but reserving his strongest language for the right-winger Sarkozy.

Bayrou describes Sarkozy as a danger to democracy.

“With his close links to the business world and media powers, his taste for intimidation and threat, Nicolas Sarkozy will concentrate powers as never before,” said Bayrou, 55, drawing a parallel between Sarkozy and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

“By his character and the themes he has chosen to stir up, he risks aggravating our social divide through policies that benefit the richest,” he told a press conference.

While crediting Royal with having “better intentions” in terms of democracy and being “more attentive” on social issues, Bayrou slated the specifics of her campaign platform.

“Her program is full of state intervention, perpetuating the illusion that it is up to the state to do everything, that it can do everything.

“Her program runs exactly counter to the direction needed to give our country back its creativity and economic stability,” he said.

Both candidates were set to drive up French debt and deficit by promising “a totally wild increase in public spending”, and in Sarkozy’s case deep tax cuts, at a time when the country can ill afford it, he said.

Bayrou was the surprise “third winner” of Sunday’s multi-candidate stage of the election, his 18.7 per cent of the vote giving a major boost to his political credibility.

With presidential victory hinging on the Bayrou electorate, Sarkozy and Royal have both been sending out feelers to his centrist camp – with hints of future cooperation and ministerial posts.

Bayrou, who currently heads the small Union for French Democracy (UDF), ruled out an alliance with either and said he was setting up a new centrist party to contest legislative elections on June 10 and 17.

He said the new Democrat Party “will be independent, free-speaking, and devoted to the defence of citizens, unfazed by threats or the temptations of power.”

France is choosing a successor to 74 year-old Jacques Chirac – president since 1995 – in an election that has become the focus of impassioned debate about the country’s future direction.

Many undecided Bayrou voters were waiting for the televised debate on May 2 between Royal and Sarkozy before deciding who – if either – to vote for.