There is little evidence in previous French Presidential elections of the single debate between the two finalists having much effect on the result. The debate in 2012 between François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy seemed to confirm the result several days later – Sarkozy seemed already to have accepted that his defeat was inevitable. In 2007, Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal never seemed to be a fair match, as Sarkozy rode high in the polls and in steering around Royal’s scattergun approach to the issues.
Wednesday night’s debate was very different. Whilst in 2012 the debate was often dull and plodding, this debate offered some shocking moments. It was sometimes difficult to hear the candidates over their shouting at each other. The two moderators were largely ignored (and looked thoroughly miserable throughout. This was not a great debate on the issues that we might have hoped for. But, if the final polls released today are to be believed, it might have changed quite a few minds. Continue reading