François Hollande, the French socialist who looks set to win the second and final round of his country’s presidential election on Sunday, advocates remedies for the euro zone debt disease that differ sharply — and potentially dangerously — from the prescriptions of Mario Draghi, the fiscally conservative apostle of free market medicine who heads the European Central Bank (ECB).

If Hollande wins, the divergent outlooks of these two men will become more than a topic of abstract debate: They could wreak fundamental change to the way the debt crisis unfolds.

As each day passes, the chances grow slimmer that Nicolas Sarkozy, the center-right presidential incumbent and other half of the two-horse election race, will live up to his reputation as a political survivor by clinching victory through a sudden bold coup. The latest polls put him about 7 or 8 percentage points behind Hollande.

Sarkozy, Draghi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have, against all odds, managed to remain in (occasionally fractious) political alliance since the euro zone crisis began: agreeing on the need for cutbacks in government spending and the injection of free-market reforms.

At first sight, Hollande does not present a radical departure from this consensus.

The presidential candidate has called for a broadening of the new EU fiscal treaty — which demands that member states balance their budgets — to include a “growth pact.” Draghi responded in April by proposing a “growth compact” for Europe. Not to be outdone, a day later Herman Van Rompuy, head of the European Council, a decision-making body for European premiers, canvassed the idea of an emergency summit of European leaders to discuss growth.

The growth argument has gained respectability in recent weeks because of signs that a diet of pure austerity is not achieving its desired effect of calming institutional investors, nervous about whether member states can pay back their debt.

Standard & Poor’s cut Spain’s debt rating by two notches to BBB+ last week, citing the damage to its fiscal position caused by a likely shrinkage of the economy this year and next. The ongoing contraction has been generated largely by savage government cuts in spending designed to restore confidence in its debt market.

More broadly, recent numbers suggest the euro zone as a whole may have plunged back into recession, in part because of a reining in of government expenditure — raising fears about the debt sustainability of a broad swath of member states.