May 3 - Analysts don't think either French President Nicolas Sarkozy or his Socialist challenger Francois Hollande managed to score a knock-out blow in the only debate between the two candidates, which was televised live and lasted for three hours. Hollande is still ahead in the polls ahead of Sunday's vote. Joanna Partridge reports.
Digesting the big debate. France considers the only discussion between the two presidential candidates, President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Socialist challenger Francois Hollande. (SOUNDBITE) FRENCH PASSER-BY STEVE SAYING (French): "For me, it was Francois Hollande. He focussed on the real problems in society whereas Sarkozy seemed completely overwhelmed by the debate." (SOUNDBITE) FRENCH PASSER-BY DIDIER SAYING (French): "I'm going to vote Sarkozy. I think he's more presidental and gave more precise figures." (SOUNDBITE) FRENCH PASSER-BY SOLENE SAYING (French): "They squabbled, and presented figures that couldn't be verified by either of them." Analysts didn't think either candidate scored a knock-out blow. PTC: There's the feeling here in France, as there is across much of the rest of Europe, that people have had enough of austerity. The French are expected to vote out President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday and many say that the voters seem to be favouring the growth-led strategy proposed by Francois Hollande. France is the second biggest economy in the euro zone - and the majority of French are still fairly well off. But the economy is at 10%, the economy is a flat-lining economy and national debt approaching 90% of national output. But things certainly aren't as bad here as in the periphery - but many analysts say there's a need for reform - and it's not clear exactly what reforms Hollande would bring in if he is elected on Sunday. The vote isn't just being closely watched in France - but across the euro zone. Hollande has already said he wants to renegotiate the fiscal compact and put growth ahead of austerity. Joanna Partridge, Reuters