Paris, April 22 (Xinhua-ANI): The first round of the 2012 French presidential election officially kicked off in mainland France on Sunday morning.
With polling stations opened at 8:00 a.m. local time , some 44.3 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots for one of the ten candidates.
A latest IFOP survey released Friday showed that incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy was neck-and-neck with his Socialist archrival Francois Hollande, with both projected to garner 27 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, 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. local time in big cities and at 6 p.m. local time 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. (Xinhua-ANI)