- Title: FRANCE: Residents in Paris suburbs pin their hopes on Segolene Royal.
- Date: 5th May 2007
- Summary: CUSTOMER BUYING FROM FRUIT AND VEGETABLE STALL.
- Embargoed: 20th May 2007 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA4L76A0CM6QD53PWHMO5I5CRJT
- Story Text: Residents in the northern Paris suburb of Argenteuil on Saturday (May 5) expressed grave concern at possible victory for conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, currently enjoying a commanding lead over rival Segolene Royal.
Argenteuil is one of many poor suburbs - or 'banlieue' -- around France's main cities that house thousands of unemployed young immigrants, facing discrimination, little hope of pulling out of poverty and less hope of finding a job.
The neighbourhood saw some of the most violent protests during the 2005 explosion of violence in suburbs across France.
In recognition of the significant growth in the electoral population in these areas, which account for between seven and nine percent of new voters, candidates have added the banlieue to their campaign trails.
But Sarkozy's pledge to clean crime-ridden estates with a power hose and rid them of the rioters poisoning life there, stoked animosity towards him. During campaigning ahead of the first round, he even had to cancel visit to Argenteuil, where in 2005 he had called the protesters "scum".
"I think there is a risk because I think he's a fox wearing feathers for the elections," said Fatima, a resident of Argenteuil. "He has betrayed before so he could betray us too."
There are fears of another explosion of violence should Sarkozy win.
"If he goes through it will explode. It will explode everywhere," said Brahim. "See how they were breaking everything in the past, it will be worse."
Some expressed a sense of hopelessness.
"I've never voted," said Claude. "It's useless, it's always the same ones who end up paying. It's obvious."
Others were more concilliatory.
"We'll have to make do. I don't think he's that bad," said Redouane, adding he did not think he was a danger to democracy.
Many have been angered by Sarkozy's tough line on immigration. Conversely, his Socialist opponent SÃ©golÃ¨ne Royal scored highly in suburban areas around Paris during the first round.
"Sarkozy is a nasty man. He doesn't speak nicely," said Saadia.
"Please say 'well done' to Segolene," said Michelle. "She was great. At first I wasn't going to vote for her because I had never heard about her, and the day I heard her speak, I changed my opinion. You can tell her. I'm for her."
TNS Sofres survey published on Friday (May 4) showed Sarkozy at 54.5 percent, compared to 45.5 percent for Segolene.
The last polls of the campaign, one by BVA and one by IPSOS, both put him even further ahead on 55 percent to Royal's 45.
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