High Voter Turnout Reported in French Presidential Run-off

World | May 6, 2012, Sunday // 14:51|  views

France expects nearly 80% voter turnout at the closing of the presidential elections run-off polls Sunday. Photo by BGNES

France has registered a very high voter turnout Sunday in a crucial run-off that could see a socialist win the presidential election for the first time since 1988.

It would also be the first time an incumbent president has lost a re-election bid since Valery Giscard d'Estaing in 1981.

In the first round socialist Francois Hollande won 28.6% of the vote, ahead of incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, who had 26.2%.

The French Interior Ministry reports that at noon (12 pm) local time nearly 31% of voters have already visited the polls, which is higher than the first round. Political experts say that they can predict, based on the noon report, nearly 80% turnout at the closing of the polls.

Both Hollande and Sarcozy have already cast their ballots.

After eight other candidates were eliminated in the first round on April 22, Hollande has led Sarkozy in every poll conducted throughout the campaign. He said that turnout on Election Day could affect the result.

Rising unemployment and the euro crisis have dominated the campaign. Sarkozy insists he prevented recession and will preserve a "strong France" while his adversary counters that the country is in "serious crisis" and needs change.

On Wednesday, the two rivals took part in a testy debate, watched by an estimated 17.9 million people, and continued to campaign until Friday.

In the final days, each stepped up his appeals to voters who backed far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Francois Bayrou in the first round.

Le Pen said she would cast a blank ballot but called on supporters to "vote according to their conscience". Bayrou announce he would back Hollande. The socialist candidate has also been endorsed by far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won 11% of the vote.

Sarkozy vows to reduce France's large budget deficit and to tax people who leave the country for tax reasons while Hollande has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and the wealthy all along with raising the minimum wage, more teachers and lower the retirement age for some workers.

The choice that French people make will affect France and the European Union and its attempts to manage the Eurozone debt crisis. France is also a permanent U.N. Security Council member and nuclear power and has troops on missions abroad, from Afghanistan to Congo.

The presidential vote will be followed by a parliamentary election in June.

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Tags: elections, presidential, run-off, Nicolas Sarkozy, francois hollande, voter turnout, France


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