So what happened last night? First of all, in terms of viewership, Segolene Royal beat Nicolas Sarkozy hands down. An average of 8.9 million viewers watched Royal, while only 8.2 million watched Sarkozy Feb. 5. Likewise, Royal peaked with roughly 10.6 million viewers, Sarkozy only 9.7 million. But as we know, it's not the size that matters, it's what you do with it.
According to The Telegraph, Royal appeared somewhat nervous at the beginning, but soon returned to her "trademark smile" once she was questioned on social issues. Perhaps the most emotional moment of the whole evening was when Royal held the hand of a man with multiple sclerosis who had burst into tears; something a male candidate would have a tough time doing.
The Telegraph also states that Royal was at her best when distinguishing herself as the only candidate who can handle the growing frustrations of France's youth population.
...she was most effective in attacking Mr Sarkozy at his Achilles heel - his poor image among sections of French youth. "I think I am alone in incarnating and [being] capable of bringing about the deep change that France needs, in particular by creating a pact with the young. There is a deep crisis, an anger that is growing," she said.
The suburban riots that rocked France in 2005 had not been properly dealt with, she said, calling for the return of neighbourhood policing. She also promised a case by case approach to immigration control.
Now we'll just have to wait to see if this gives her any new momentum in the polls.
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