April 22 - Polls open in France for the first round presidential election voting. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
The French headed to the polls on Sunday (April 22) in the first round of presidential elections, with a feeble economy that could make Nicolas Sarkozy the country's first president to lose a re-election bid in more than 30 years. Sarkozy is battling Socialist opponent Francois Hollande in the two-round election. Opinion polls have given the challenger a double-digit lead for a May 6 runoff. 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 US dollars). He would become France's first left-wing president since Francois Mitterand, who beat incumbent Valery Giscard-'Estaing in 1981.