French presidential candidates Segolene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy are fervently pressing flesh and swapping barbs in the remaining hours before Sunday’s vote. Royal, a socialist, warned that a win for Sarkozy could trigger violence, while front-runner Sarkozy sniffed that his rival’s attack was a byproduct of her lagging status in pre-election polls.
Both candidates held their final big rallies on Thursday, Ms Royal in Lille in the north and Mr Sarkozy at the other end of the country in Montpellier.
Mr Sarkozy, 52, promised to unify the nation, re-invigorate the economy and restore full employment. He also defended several of his most controversial comments.
Ms Royal, 53, called for a French rebirth, saying she offered a safe choice for those wanting “a protecting France, a fraternal France, a competitive France”.
Their sometimes ill-tempered TV debate on Wednesday, watched by an estimated 23m people, left both claiming victory.