A lack of really bold new ideas coupled with doubts about his proposed €30bn (£20bn) in extra spending and tax cuts has reinforced suspicions that Mr Sarkozy is a second-hand car salesman masquerading as a man of destiny.
To Sarkozy's credit, he has had to walk a very fine line, proposing reforms to get the French economy moving without alienating too many voters. But if neither Royal nor Sarkozy wow the electorate with bold vision, it will come down to personality, a contest that Sarkozy will come up short. So while Royal is attempting to recover her battered image, Sarkozy is going to have to not only continue to upkeep his image of competence, but ensure that his policies are linked to a somewhat inspiring vision for France.
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