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Royal Predicts Violence as French Prepare For Presidential Vote

  • Anita Elash

French voters choose their new president on Sunday. Polls predict conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy will win. During her last day of campaigning, his opponent, Socialist Party candidate Segolene Royal, said a Sarkozy win would spark violence in the multi-ethnic suburbs. Anita Elash reports from Paris.

The popularity gap between Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal has grown considerably in the last few days. The latest poll, published on Friday, predicts he will win the vote by nearly nine percentage points.

Pollsters say Royal lost support after a televised debate on Wednesday evening, when she got angry about questions concerning education for handicapped children.

During the last day of campaigning on Friday, she continued her aggressive stance and told supporters in Western France that a vote for Sarkozy would lead to violence in the largely immigrant suburbs, where he is especially unpopular.

Royal said the right-wing candidate is dangerous for all of France.

In an interview published late Friday, Sarkozy called Royal's comments "the negation of basic democratic rules."

Royal's comments fell flat with voters. This English teacher in Paris says they confirmed her view that Sarkozy is a better candidate.

"She doesn't seem to be confident herself or to believe in what she's saying anymore, so I was personally not impressed by what she said and I thought that was just the last straw," she said.

Voter turnout in the first round of voting in April was especially high. Eighty-four percent of people who were registered cast a ballot. Officials say they expect even more will turn out for the final round.

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