Election Day in France, 2007
Reuters is reporting that the early turnout in the run-off election for president in France is high:
PARIS (Reuters) – French voters turned out in droves on Sunday for an election run-off in which conservative Nicolas Sarkozy was widely expected to defeat Socialist Segolene Royal in her bid to become France’s first woman president.
Sarkozy, a 52-year-old former interior minister, has promised reforms to make France work more, crack down on crime and cut unemployment. Royal, a 53-year-old regional leader, says she will create jobs but keep a generous social welfare system.
Final opinion polls gave Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, a commanding 10-point lead over Royal in the race to succeed conservative Jacques Chirac after 12 years in office.
Turnout was on course to beat the first-round figure of nearly 85 percent on April 22, when Sarkozy and Royal eliminated 10 other candidates. The Interior Ministry said 34.1 percent of the 44.5 million electorate had voted by 1000 GMT.
The Times of London is reporting that riot police have been deployed in anticipation of a Sarkozy victory:
Thousands of riot police will be deployed in Paris tonight after warnings that victory for Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative candidate in today’s presidential election, could spark violent protests.
Fears of a repeat of the rioting that swept France two years ago intensified as the final opinion polls pointed to an overwhelming victory for Sarkozy. A crowd of up to 40,000 Sarkozy supporters was expected on the Champs Elysées in central Paris to celebrate the result. Police believe that gangs of youths from the suburbs might confront them.
Sarkozy has promised a “fraternal” republic but said last week that he did not regret having described young delinquents as “scum” in 2005 in remarks widely believed to have ignited the rioting.
The interior ministry said that 8,000 riot police were being placed on stand-by in the suburbs — equivalent to the force deployed at the height of the violence, when 10,000 cars and dozens of businesses were burnt in three weeks of mayhem.