France sets 2012 presidential election dates
The French government announced its 2012 presidential election dates on Wednesday, with the first round election set to take place on 22 April and the second run-off on 6 May.
A two-round parliamentary election for the lower house National Assembly will follow on 10 and 17 June, government spokesman Francois Baroin told reporters in Paris.
Centre-right President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to stand for re-election for a second five-year term and is likely to face strong challenges from the Socialist Party on the left and the National Front on the far right.
Polls show that Sarkozy could be beaten by any of the likely main candidates for the Socialist Party’s nomination and could even be knocked out in the first round if the National Front’s Marine Le Pen swipes second place.
While the Socialists have yet to pick their candidate, opinion polls suggest International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn would be their strongest choice.
The latest poll by the Ifop institute puts Sarkozy’s personal approval rating at 32 per cent, a figure lower than any other incumbent president’s at this stage in the race for re-election.
Since his 2007 election victory Sarkozy has grappled with public anger over his austerity policies.
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