6 May 2012

Election win tipped for Hollande

9:59 pm on 6 May 2012

Polls predict Socialist candidate Francois Hollande will win the presidential election in France despite a late increase in support for incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Voters go to the the polls on Sunday in the second and final round of the presidential election.

Mr Hollande, a mild-mannered and popular career politician, has held a steady lead for weeks after outlining a comprehensive programme in January based on raising taxes, especially on high earners, to finance spending and keep the public deficit capped.

Mr Sarkozy is increasingly unpopular among voters.

Mr Sarkozy is spending the day with his family, while Mr Hollande visited a market in the town of Tulle, his political stronghold.

Mr Sarkozy, sometimes called the hare in the race and his rival the tortoise, launched his campaign late and unveiled proposals one by one in speeches that swerved hard to the right as he sought to win back low-income voters which the polls show have ditched him for either the radical left or extreme right.

His aggressive rallies and pledges to rein in immigrant numbers, hold policy referendums, crack down on tax exiles and make the unemployed retrain as a condition of getting benefits did not reduce Mr Hollande's lead.

He surprised many by failing to land a knockout punch on his rival in a televised debate.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who came third in the first round, says she is not endorsing either candidate. Ms Le Pen attracted 6.4 million votes in the first round.

But Mr Hollande has secured the backing of the fourth and fifth candidates.

The presidential vote will be followed by a parliamentary election in June.