Paris, April 22 (IANS) The first round of the 2012 French presidential election kicked off Sunday with over 44 million registered voters eligible to cast their ballots for one of 10 candidates, including incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.
Francois Hollande, who is seen as Sarkozy's closest rival and who represents the biggest opposition Socialist Party (PS), cast his vote in Tulle, central France, where he served as its mayor from 2001 to 2008, reported Xinhua.
"I am attentive, engaged, and above all respectable. That's what the French vote for," Hollande told reporters after his voting, adding that the day was "an important moment".
Earlier in the day, Francois Bayrou, representing Democratic Movement (Modem), Jean-Luc Melenchon, candidate of the Left Front and Marine Le Pen, candidate representing the far right National Front (FN), also voted in their respective constituencies.
A latest IFOP survey released Friday showed Sarkozy was neck-and-neck with 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.
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 close.
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