Voting in the French presidential election kicked off on Sunday morning to elect one of the ten candidates in the fray, with the main fight between center-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozi and his Socialist challenger Francois Hollande.
With polling stations opening at 08:00 a.m., some 44 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots at 85,000 polling stations across the country, reports said.
Polling will continue until 6.00 p.m. in most parts of the country and 8.00 p.m. in major cities. Voting began in France's far-flung overseas territories and in several other countries on Saturday itself.
Even though there were more than 44 million registered voters, pollsters predict that around 25 percent will abstain causing concern to the candidates, especially Hollande.
Early voters turnout for the Atlantic island of St. Pierre showed a six percent fall compared to the 2007 election. Voting was also down by about one percent in Martinique, but it was up two percent in French Guyana, French media reports said.
President since 2007, Sarkozy has promised to reduce the country's large budget deficit and to tax people who leave the country for tax reasons. Hollande, for his part, has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than EUR one million a year.
A pre-poll survey released on Friday showed that Sarkozy was neck-and-neck with Hollande, with both projected to garner 27 percent of the votes. National Front nominee Marine Le Pen trailed behind with 16 percent, according to the survey.
by RTT Staff Writer
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