April 22 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni vote in the first round of presidential elections as he tries to fend off Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy, hoping to win a second term, cast his vote in Paris on Sunday (April 22) in the first round of the presidential elections.
Sarkozy is battling Socialist Francois Hollande ahead of a two-round presidential election starting on Sunday, with opinion polls giving the challenger a double-digit lead for a May 6 runoff.
Sarkozy moved briefly into the lead in polls for the first round on April 22 following his handling of a shooting drama in south-western France in March, but he has slipped back again in more recent polls and the runoff gap has widened.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, hard leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon and centrist Francois Bayrou rank in third, fourth and fifth place for the April 22 first round between 10 candidates.
57-year-old Hollande promises less drastic spending cuts than Sarkozy and wants higher taxes on the wealthy to fund state-aided job creation, in particular a 75 percent upper tax rate on income above 1 million euros (1.32 million U.S. dollars).
He would become France's first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand, who beat incumbent Valery Giscard d'Estaing in 1981.
Sarkozy, also 57, says he is a safer pair of hands for future economic turmoil but many of the workers and young voters drawn to his 2007 pledge of more pay for more work are deserting him as jobless claims have hit their highest level in 12 years.
Many French people also express a distaste for a president who has come to be seen as flashy following his highly publicised marriage to supermodel Carla Bruni early in his term, occasional rude outbursts in public and his chumminess with rich executives.
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