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French presidential candidates make final appeals to voters

06. May 2012. | 06:57

Source: MIA

The two contenders in the French presidential election have made their final appeals to the voters before polling stations open Sunday.

The two contenders in the French presidential election have made their final appeals to the voters before polling stations open Sunday.

The Socialist Party's leader Francois Hollande promised the electorate that if he won, "You will not be disappointed, you will not be forgotten. You will be defended and you will be respected."

As campaigning came to an end Friday, polls suggested his lead over the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy had narrowed to between five and six percentage points.

The candidate is vowing to raise taxes on the wealthiest, with a 75 percent income tax on those earning over €1 million (US$1.31 million).

He also wants to increase corporation tax and create tens of thousands of new public sector jobs, including 60,000 new teachers.

Hollande has been buoyed by the support of the centrist Francis Bayrou, who won 9.1 percent of the public vote in the first round of the election.

The current president knows he has to attract the support of those who backed the Front National leader Marine Le Pen, if he is to remain in the Elysee Palace.

He has shifted his campaign to the right, promising tighter immigration controls and removing France from the visa Schengen agreement, if internal borders were not properly policed.

At a campaign rally in the coastal town of Les Sables d'Olonne, Sarkozy said the contest was still too close to call.

"On Sunday, each of you, every one you has the future of our country in his hands. There is not one vote which weighs more than another," he said. "There is the vote of each French person, male and female. First, I would like to convince you of one thing: it's that each vote will matter. On Sunday, you can't imagine how much everything will hang on a knife-edge."

Saturday is a "day of contemplation" for French voters so, by law, all campaigning has now ceased.

The first exit polls will be released at 8:00pm local time.


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