First round of Presidential election today
Around 43.5 million French voters will choose from ten candidates today in the French presidential election.
Approximately 85,000 polling stations will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time with the poll extended by two hours to 8 p.m. in some urban areas.
Polling also took place yesterday in the French territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, St. Barthelemy, St. Maarten and French Polynesia. The votes in these areas will not be counted until the polls close tonight and there are strict laws about releasing any predictions before the polls close.
Although there are ten candidates standing, the polls suggest that the second round will be fought between the incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and Socialist Party (PS) candidate François Hollande with Hollande slightly ahead in the opinion polls.
The other eight candidates are:
Marine Le Pen of the far right National Front (FN) currently in third place in the polls. She was doing well at the start of the campaign but has faded towards the end of the first round.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Left Front (FDG) an alliance of five far left parties. He has done well in recent polls and may be a surprise candidate in the first round although he is unlikely to make it to the second round.
François Bayrou of the Democratic Movement (MoDem) a centrist candidate. He is also in double digit figures in the opinion polls.
Eva Joly of Ecologie – Les Verts.
Nicolas Dupont-Aignon of Arise the Republic (DLR) a Eurosceptic Gaullist party.
Nathalie Arthaud of Workers’ Struggle (LO), a Trotskyist party.
Philppe Patou of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), as its name suggests a left wing anti-capitalist party.
Jacques Cheminade an independent anti-capitalist candidate.
Many people have complained about the lacklustre nature of the campaign with few candidates coming out with concrete policies. The main candidates have avoided or skirted over the main concerns of the voters, namely the economy and jobs. This has led to widespread dissent amongst the population and we may well see low turnout figures today.
The second round will be on 6th May.