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Learning English - Words in the News
23 April, 2007 - Published 12:45 GMT
French presidential election
Segolene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy

The French have chosen the right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Segolene Royal to battle it out for the presidency after the first round of voting took place on Sunday. Mr Sarkozy gained 30% of the vote and Ms Royal 26%. This report from Paul Legg:

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Unlike five years ago when the presidential run-off in France offered a choice between a centre-right incumbent, Jacques Chirac, and a far-right politician, Jean-Marie le Pen, this time voters will face a more classic choice between Right and Left.

In the coming two weeks, both Mr Sarkozy and Ms Royal will have a difficult challenge. On the one hand, they'll want to shore up their core support on the Right and Left but, on the other hand, they'll need to appeal to the nearly one-fifth of voters who opted for the centrist candidate, Francois Bayrou, in the first round. Mr Bayrou's message was one of unity and pragmatism and both the candidates are certain to be stressing those themes.

It's hard to imagine two more different personalities than Mr Sarkozy, the former hard-line Interior Minister who leads from the front, and Ms Royal who promises a new style of leadership based on inclusivity. The policy contrast is also stark. Mr Sarkozy wants the French to work harder and pay less tax, is promising to curb union powers and a crackdown on young offenders. Ms Royal would maintain and improve France's welfare state, raise the minimum wage and, as she has put it, "reform the country without breaking it". Her election would also, of course, take France into totally uncharted territory - with a woman as president for the first time in the country's history.

Paul Legg, BBC

Listen to the words

the final round of voting in the French election

someone who is already holding a post

to shore up
to make secure, to use to their advantage

core support
here, people who always vote for the same party

to appeal to
to become liked by, to get support from

opted for
chose, voted for

a practical attitude

not excluding any section of society

sharply evident, very obvious

totally uncharted territory
an entirely new situation, something that has never happened before

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