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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 20 January, 2019
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French election hangs in balance - but polls suggest Sarkozy defeat

The first ballots have been cast today in a vote that could have major consequences for Europe.

Sarkozy on TV screens during a debate with Hollande
Sarkozy on TV screens during a debate with Hollande
Image: Thibault Camus/AP/Press Association Images

THE VERY FIRST ballots have been cast in France’s presidential election, a vote that could see Nicolas Sarkozy ousted from power and will have major ramifications for the European financial crisis.

Voters in France’s overseas territories began heading to polling stations today, although mainland France will not vote until tomorrow.

The final polls show Sarkozy making up ground on his Socialist challenger Francois Hollande— but still suggest a Hollande victory. Campaigning and the release of poll data have been suspended until the results of the run-off election come in Sunday evening.

Sarkozy predicts a “surprise” and Hollande is urging voters to avoid complacency as the bitter campaign neared its climax, driven by fears about joblessness, immigration and France’s economic future.

Hollande spent the weekend in Tulle, the town in central France where he has his electoral base as legislator and one-time mayor. Greeting shoppers in a market, Hollande said he was “confident, but not sure” when asked about his chances of becoming France’s next president.

“We wait for Sunday, I speak only about Sunday. Monday is another day,” Hollande said.

Sarkozy as spending the day at home with his family in Paris.

Sarkozy, disliked by many voters for his handling of the economy, promised he could come out victorious on Sunday. Speaking on Europe-1 radio yesterday, he said much will depend on whether French voters bother to cast ballots in an election that polls have always predicted Hollande would win.

But he also sounded increasingly philosophical and prepared for possible defeat.

Asked Friday what he would do if he loses, Sarkozy said simply, “there will be a handover of power.”

Polls released yesterday and Thursday show the gap between the candidates shrinking but results still solidly in Hollande’s favor.

A poll by the BVA agency shows 52.5 percent support for Hollande and 47.5 percent for Sarkozy. A poll by the agency CSA shows 53 percent for Hollande and 47 percent for Sarkozy.

Video: ‘It’s a lie! It’s a lie!’ – Hollande and Sarkozy in ill-tempered debate>

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Associated Press

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