First round of voting today | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 22, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 22, 2012

France Presidential Polls

First round of voting today


French presidential candidates marked a one day truce yesterday on the eve of voting in a first-round poll to whittle the 10-strong field down to two frontrunners.
French election rules outlaw both campaigning and opinion polling on the last day of the race, but Socialist challenger Francois Hollande went into the weekend favourite to oust right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.
The two 57-year-old political veterans are expected to win the two spots in the May 6 run-off, and polls suggest that the left-winger will comfortably win the battle to become one of the most powerful leaders in the world.
Parisians went about their business without being accosted by pamphleteers, the campaigns' websites, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds were left without updates and broadcasters had to find other subjects to interview.
But some hints of the campaigns' moods slipped past the censors.
The left-wing daily Liberation emblazoned its front page with the headline "A strong left" against the backdrop of a blue ocean under open skies, mocking the slogan and imagery of Sarkozy's "A strong France" campaign.
The pro-Sarkozy Le Figaro stuck doggedly behind its champion, but doubts clouded its front page editorial, which warned all those thinking of voting far-right or centrist that second round would depend on the first.
Privately, Sarkozy's top supporters have begun to admit that if Sarkozy fails to regain the momentum and slip ahead of Hollande today, he will have too much ground left to make up before the May 6 showdown.
France is a nuclear-armed power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the tenth biggest economy in the world in terms of GDP. Its executive president wields extraordinary personal power.
Sarkozy has, in the teeth of much criticism of his hyperactive leadership style, made the office still more influential by downgrading the role of his prime minister and taking day-to-day charge of matters of state.
The eventual winner of the May 6 vote will still have to win legislative elections in June to make sure of his or her authority, but any French leader with a parliamentary majority has wide room to manoeuvre.
First, however, 44.5 million French electors must make their choice.

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