Royal Warns of Violence if Sarkozy Wins

Segolene Royal is trailing badly in the polls going into today’s run-off for France’s presidency. So she warned that violence would break out if Nicolas Sarkozy wins.

Socialist opponent Segolene Royal said on Friday that France risks violence and brutality if her opponent right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy wins Sunday’s presidential election. On the last day of official campaigning, opinion polls showed Sarkozy enjoyed a commanding lead over Royal, who accused the former interior minister of lying and polarizing France. “Choosing Nicolas Sarkozy would be a dangerous choice,” Royal told RTL radio. “It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of (his) candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country (if he won),” she said.

Pressed on whether there would be actual violence, Royal said: “I think so, I think so,” referring specifically to France’s volatile suburbs hit by widespread rioting in 2005.

Royal went on the offensive during a fiery television debate between the two on Wednesday night when Sarkozy, portrayed as ruthlessly ambitious by his opponents, questioned whether she was cool enough to become France’s first woman president.

Royal’s desperate charges rather proves his point. France has the most volatile Muslim population in the West and needs to figure out how to handle that problem, pronto. Stoking those fears in an attempt to delegitimate the candidate supported by the majority of the populace, however, is a move in the wrong direction.

Sarkozy’s performance buttressed his lead in the polls and a TNS Sofres survey published on Friday showed him at 54.5 percent, compared to 45.5 percent for the Socialist. An IPSOS poll put him on 54 percent against 46 percent for Royal. “It is hard to imagine the trend being reversed,” TNS Sofres deputy head Brice Teinturier told a news conference.

Especially after these comments.

Analysts say a fresh defeat for the Socialists, who have not held the presidency since Francois Mitterrand retired in 1995, could spark a crisis in the party which has not undergone the painful reforms of other European leftist parties.

Truly a shame.

A relaxed Sarkozy laughed off her comments. “She’s not in a good mood this morning. It must be the opinion polls,” he told Europe 1 radio.

Quite likely.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.