Hollande leads ahead of 2nd Socialist TV debate
With ten days to go until the first round of voting, a new opinion poll gives François Hollande an 11-point lead over his closest rival in the battle to become the Socialist party's candidate in next year's presidential elections.
The six candidates will face each other again on Wednesday for the second televised debate, which will be shown on news channel i-télé and broadcast on radio station Europe 1.
The opinion poll, conducted by Ipsos for Le Monde, France Télévisions and Radio France, gave Hollande 42 percent and former party leader Martine Aubry 31 percent. Hollande has seen his score increase by two points over the last month while Aubry's has fallen by four.
A majority of voters believe that Hollande, who is the member of parliament for the Corrèze department, has the best chance of winning next year's presidency. 55 percent chose Hollande against 22 percent Aubry.
The first debate on September 15th attracted 5 million television viewers and all candidates were widely felt to have done a good job, without any major gaffes or breakthroughs. The format of the broadcast was a series of one-on-one interviews with each candidate and a final 30 minutes of debate between them.
In Wednesday's debate there will be a continuous debate for the full two hours, offering the possibility of a livelier event. There will be one more televised debate,on October 5th, before voting starts.
The primaries, as they are being called, will take place in two rounds. The first round of voting will be on October 9th, after which the leading two candidates will go into a final run-off on October 16th. Anyone on the electoral register who pays one euro and signs up to a charter of left-wing views is eligible to vote.
Next year's presidential elections are planned for April 22nd and May 6th. Current president Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to run but has not yet officially declared.
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