The great TV debate yesterday was quite astoundingly boring. Both sides played it safe and won support from their existing supporters but I can't see either picking up many votes from the other or from hitherto undecided voters.
Sarko was on his best behaviour and Sego showed she could waffle with the best of them. There were a couple of moments when the sparks sort of flew but for the most part Sego attacked Sarko and Sarko showed his gentlemanly side and failed to get in the killing rejoinders that he could have in return. On the other hand he made his two points more than once that
Sego was dogding the difficult questions and changing the subject all the time and
She was failing to explain how her sums add up because they don't
I think it is fair to say we learned nothing new. Sarko had most of the figures, although Sego did manage a couple of statistics to prove that she isn't totally emppy headed. Sego attacked Sarko on his record in government and Sarko failed to point out the way I would have that at least he HAD a record in government; Sego was minister for women (or something equally pointless) once and, as far as I can tell, did practically nothing whereas Sarko has been minister of the Interior and of Finance and been highly active in both.
The one thing I will note, not from the debate, is the "playing the man not the ball" tactics of the socialists. I touched on that a bit yesterday and Charles Bremner has some other examples. I'm not sure how these tactics are going to come across to the French electorate but I suspect that they are likely to backfire. Sarko makes no attempt to ingratiate himself and attacks on his person rather than his policies seem likely to be perceived as "the establishment kicking the outsider", a position that Sarko wants. Certainly French people I have talked to seem to think that the establishment politicians hate Sarko and that this only makes him more attractive. My only problem is that I live in a part of France that is solidly pro-Sarko - the PACA region voted about 45% for Sarko and had a good deal of Le Pen votes too so it is entirely possible that the French people I know are unrepresentative of the rest of France. I guess we'll find out on Sunday...