Thursday, April 19, 2012

Disgruntled French set to vote out Sarkozy

(Reuters) - Voters look set to turn their backs on conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's first round of an election that could give France its first left-wing president in 17 years just as fears resurface over Europe's sovereign debt crisis.

A sickly economy and a deep dislike of Sarkozy's flashy style have dominated the campaign, but the outside world's doubts about France's commitment to balance its public finances are also at stake as feeble growth threatens deficit-cutting targets in Europe's No. 2 economy.

The centre-right president, an impulsive showman, and his bland Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande, are neck-and-neck in opinion polls for the first round on about 27-28 percent. But Hollande has a wide lead in voting intentions for a May 6 runoff between the top two candidates.

Far-right anti-immigration crusader Marine Le Pen, who wants France to abandon the euro, looks set to come third, with hard left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon fourth and centrist Francois Bayrou fifth, polls show. Read More