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Morning turnout reaches 30.66% for French presidential runoff

(Xinhua)

08:39, May 07, 2012

France's President and Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party's candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni arrive at Lycee Jean de la Fontaine to cast their votes in the 2nd round of the 2012 French presidential election in Paris, France, May 6, 2012. (Xinhua/Etienne Laurent)

PARIS, May 6 (Xinhua) -- The second round of polling that will decide the next French president between Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande is taking place in mainland France on Sunday.

Latest figures released by the French Interior Ministry showed 30.66 percent of voters have cast their ballots by noon, higher than the figure for the same period in the first round.

Incumbent President Sarkozy cast his vote in the 16th arrondisment (district) in Paris with his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy just before noon. Though looked tired, the president greeted supporters with a cheerful manner.

Socialist challenger Hollande cast his vote at 10:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) in Tulle, central France, where he served as the mayor from 2001 to 2008.

Shaking hands and taking pictures, Hollande spent generous time with supporters and journalists before casting his ballot following a line like everybody else.

Earlier in the day, centrist Francois Bayrou and the Left Front leader Jean-Luc Melenchon also voted in their respective constituency.

Marc Andre, a staff at Sarkozy's voting booth and a business consultant before retirement, told Xinhua that there are around 2,000 volunteers in Paris to help with the polling.

"The work is easy. You can manage it after 10 minutes training. I just want to be a part of it," he said.

Polling stations opened at 8:00 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) in mainland France, as its 46 million registered voters chose between the right-wing incumbent president and the Socialist challenger.

A 46-year-old local jurist who prefered to be anonymous told Xinhua she voted for Sarkozy.

"He does not have the best quality, but he is more competent," she said.

Elsewhere in the capital, Xinhua correspondents in 17th district saw more than a dozen voters waiting in the drizzle outside polling stations to cast their ballots early in the morning.

"I voted for Hollande," Alain, a registered voter in the 17th arrondisment told Xinhua, "Sarkozy will lose because his behavioral problem, while Hollande will bring social justice and coherence to France."

Another voter, Pierre, said that Sarkozy "lost the game long time ago." However, the voter was not confident about a Hollande administration either.

Early polling in French overseas territories were held on Saturday due to time differences, starting from the small French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, off the east coast of Canada.

Results of the polling will be announced after all the voting booths in mainland France close at 8 p.m. local time (1800 GMT).

Latest polls by Friday night when the election campaigns officially ended, showed that support for Sarkozy slightly raised to 48 percent, while Hollande still enjoying a 4 points lead.

The first round election on April 22 has seen Hollande beat Sarkozy with 28.63 percent of the vote, while the latter gathered 27.18 percent, with a turnout rate of more than 79 percent.

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