French presidential election kicks off

Paris, April 22: The first round of the 2012 French presidential election kicked off in France Sunday.

With polling stations opening at 8 a.m., some 44.3 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots for one of the ten candidates, reported Xinhua.

A latest IFOP survey released Friday showed that incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy was neck-and-neck with his Socialist arch-rival Francois Hollande, with both projected to garner 27 percent of the vote.

Marine Le Pen, a candidate from the National Front, trailed behind with 16 percent of the vote, according to the survey.

The 85,000 polling stations across the country are set to close at 8 p.m. in big cities and at 6 p.m. in other places.

According to French law, no exit poll or release of early results of the first round of the presidential election is allowed before all polling stations are closed.