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Hollande leads Sarkozy in early unofficial exit polls

posted 22 Apr 2012, 09:55 by Mpelembe

Early French election exit polls published in Belgium show the Socialist candidate Francois Hollande ahead of conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy with a 27 percent share of the vote.

Early exit polls for the first round of French presidential elections broadcast in Belgium on Sunday (April 22) show the Socialist candidate Francois Hollande ahead with 27 percent of the vote against conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in second place with 25.5 percent of the vote.
Far right candidate Marine Le Pen got 16 percent with the Left Front candidate Jean Luc Melenchon taking 13 percent share.

France voted in round one of a presidential ballot where frustration at high unemployment and a weak economy have left Nicolas Sarkozy on track to become the first French leader to lose a re-election bid in more than 30 years.

In a contest driven as much by a dislike of his showy style and failure to create jobs as by policy differences, Sarkozy and Socialist rival Hollande are poised to beat eight other candidates to reach a May 6 runoff, where polls give Hollande a double-digit lead.

Hollande, 57, promises less drastic spending cuts than Sarkozy and wants higher taxes on the wealthy to fund state-aided job creation, in particular a 75 percent upper tax rate on income above 1 million euros (1.32 million U.S. million).

Investors will be watching to see how well tub-thumbing radical leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon performs. Melenchon, who wants an anti-capitalist revolution, has channelled outrage over the economy to become a popular figure on the campaign trail, vying with far-right leader Marine Le Pen for third place.

Polls closed at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) in some towns and nationwide at 8 p.m., when the first official projections of the result based on a partial count will be released.

Pre-election surveys predicting low turnout were not borne out: 70.6 percent of the electorate had voted by 5 p.m., the interior ministry said, just below the 73.9 percent recorded at the same point in the 2007 election, which was the highest in two decades.