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France sets presidential election date for April-May 2017

French President François Hollande at a conference on the left and government on Tuesday
French President François Hollande at a conference on the left and government on Tuesday Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

France's presidential elections will be held on 23 April next year for the first round and 7 May for the runoff, government spokesperson Stéphane Le Foll announced on Wednesday. President François Hollande is believed to want to stand again, despite an unprecedentedly bad showing in the opinion polls. A general election will follow in June.

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Hollande's mandate runs out next year and the government has now named the dates for the two rounds of the presidential election as well as for the parliamentary election that will follow, on 11 and 18 June.

With an approval rating of just 13 percent, Hollande is the least popular French president since polling began.

But he is believed to want to stand again, meaning that the left will probably not hold a primary, as it did for the first time before the 2012 election in which he beat right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy's Republicans, however, are organising a primary, their first ever, on 20 and 27 November.

The former president has not formally declared his intention to stand but is widely believed to wish to do so.

His main rival in the party is former foreign affairs minister and prime minister Alain Juppé, who is currently mayor of Bordeaux.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen intends to represent her far-right movement.

Polls give her 28 percent, which would put her in the lead in the first round, but they show that she is likely to lose the second round.

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