Sunday May 06, 201207:33 AM GMT
Polls open in France run-off presidential election
An undated photo of the campaign posters of candidates for the 2012 French presidential election stuck on an electoral billboard at Le Raincy, outside Paris
An undated photo of the campaign posters of candidates for the 2012 French presidential election stuck on an electoral billboard at Le Raincy, outside Paris
Sun May 6, 2012 7:23AM
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Polls have opened in France's presidential run-off election that could result in the formation of a first socialist government in the European country in almost two decades.


Voting started in France on Sunday in an election that could make Nicolas Sarkozy the 11th European leader to be swept from the office by the economic crisis and crown Francois Hollande as France's first Socialist president in 17 years.

About 46 million people are eligible for voting on Sunday as polling stations in municipal buildings around the country open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (0600-1600GMT). In Paris and other large urban areas polls remain open until 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).

The French living in Canada, the United States and South America went to the polls on Saturday. Voting has also begun for the French nationals living in Australia.

Partial official results are expected Sunday night, after the last polls close.

Hollande came first in the first round of the vote on April 22 with 28.63 percent of the votes, while Sarkozy garnered 27.18 percent.

Earlier, the candidates traded insults in a televised head-to-head debate.

Sarkozy labeled Hollande a liar and a "little slanderer" while Hollande accused Sarkozy of shirking his responsibilities, cronyism and favoring the privileged over France's poor.

Economy, unemployment and immigration policies are among the top issues considered by the voters.

MSH/MA/HJL
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