Sunday the French will cast their final votes and get a new president: either Sarkozy or Royal. On the big final TV debate there was one ‘gesture’ that received considerable attention. Segolene pointed her finger repeatedly at Sarkozy while accusing him of something.

Watch out for the scene that starts around 4:00 in this video and lasts for a couple of minutes (or at 6:50 in case of counting back in time). In her main accusation Mme Royal first points her finger about 14 times, then makes a wave-away gesture three times and continues with another 5 or 6 angry points.

MSN: The highlight came as Ms Royal said it was scandalous that Mr Sarkozy could talk with a tear in his eye of giving handicapped children an enforceable right to schooling, when his government had scrapped a similar measure she had introduced as schools minister. The centre-right favourite replied: “Calm down. Don’t point your finger at me like that. I don’t know why Ms Royal, usually so calm, has lost her nerve…You have shown how easily you get angry. But to be president of the republic carries heavy responsibilities.” Ms Royal hit back, saying: “Not when there is injustice. There is some anger that is perfectly healthy.”

A more literal translation for good measure:

CNN: Highlights from the showdown: SARKOZY: “Calm down, don’t point at me with your finger like that.” … ROYAL: “No, I won’t calm down.” SARKOZY: “To be president you have to be calm.” ROYAL: “Not when there is injustice. There is anger that is perfectly healthy… I won’t allow the immorality of political speeches to gain the upper hand.” SARKOZY: “I don’t know why Madame Royal, who is usually calm, has lost her cool.” ROYAL: “I have not lost my cool, I’m angry. It’s not the same, don’t be contemptuous, Mr Sarkozy.” … SARKOZY: “I am not calling into question your sincerity, Madame Royal, don’t call into question my morality. And with that, Madame, the dignity of the presidential debate will be preserved. “But at least it’s served one purpose, which is to show that you get angry very quickly, you go off the rails very easily, Madame. A president is someone who has important responsibilities.”

I saw an old debate between Francois Mitterand and Giscard d’Estaing on TV in 1981. A similar situation arose. The socialist claimed the moral high ground and the conservative said that Mitterand did not have the monopoly on compassion: “Vous n’avez pas le monopole du coeur”. It was an important moment. Maybe this small scene will be remembered as well?