France goes to the polls this weekend to elect its President, with a second round run-off, if required, taking place a fortnight hence, reports Tom Rouse.
The final week of campaigning ahead of the first round of voting on Sunday has seen a bitter war of words between supporters of President Sarkozy and his Socialist rival François Hollande.
M. Sarkozy’s campaign was dealt a fresh blow when a close aide of Jacques Chirac confirmed the former president would be voting for M. Hollande.
The race is expected to go to a second round, with the two men neck and neck on 27% each in an Ipsos poll published earlier this week, but the challenger looks to have a strong advantage in future rounds, with the same survey giving him a 12% lead in any head-to head contest.
However, recent polling has also suggested the parties at either extreme of French politics are likely to give a strong showing, although neither the far left or the far right are likely to produce a repeat of 2002’s upset when Fascist Jean Marie Le Pen progressed to the run-off.
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As BBC News reported today, amidst speculation he may approach far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon or centrist François Bayrou to shore up his support in the second round, M. Hollande said there would be no deals, “no bartering, no concessions, no exchanges”.