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Apr 23, 2012

French far right holds balance after Hollande edges Sarkozy

PARIS (Reuters) – Far-right voters may decide who becomes France’s next president after anti-immigration crusader Marine Le Pen’s record first-round election score jolted the race between Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

The centre-left Hollande narrowly beat the conservative Sarkozy in Sunday’s 10-candidate first round by 28.6 percent to 27.1 percent, the Interior Ministry said with 99 percent of votes counted, but Le Pen stole the show by surging to 18.0 percent, the biggest result for a far-right candidate.

Apr 22, 2012

Turnout solid as France votes, Sarkozy on ropes

PARIS (Reuters) – Voters angry over unemployment and economic gloom turned out in large numbers on Sunday in the first round of a presidential election that could make conservative Nicolas Sarkozy the first French leader to miss re-election in more than 30 years.

In a contest driven as much by a dislike of his showy style as by policy differences, Sarkozy and Socialist rival Francois Hollande are poised to edge out eight other candidates to reach a May 6 runoff, where polls give Hollande a double-digit lead.

Apr 21, 2012

French voters frustrated on eve of election day

PARIS, April 21 (Reuters) – French voters voiced
disillusionment on Saturday at a campaign that many said ignored
the country’s real problems, on the eve of a first-round vote
expected to send President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist rival
Francois Hollande to a runoff next month.

A day ahead of voting in mainland France, the first ballots
were cast in overseas territories, from French Guiana on the
northern shores of South America to the Pacific islands of

Apr 21, 2012

French voters disillusioned on eve of election day

PARIS, April 21 (Reuters) – France’s presidential candidates
observed a one-day truce on Saturday on the eve of a first-round
vote expected to send President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist
challenger Francois Hollande through to next month’s runoff.

Final polls before a mandatory media blackout on campaigning
from midnight on Friday showed Hollande narrowly ahead of the
conservative leader for Sunday’s first-round vote but the
comfortable winner of the second round on May 6.

Apr 20, 2012

Hard-leftist says France should nationalize Total

PARIS (Reuters) – Hard-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon said on Friday that France should draw inspiration from Latin America’s left-wing revolutions and nationalize oil giant Total (TOTF.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), as Argentina is doing with energy firm YPF (REP.MC: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Melenchon, whose surge in support to challenge for third place has been the main surprise in the campaign, told a news conference ahead of Sunday’s first round of voting that IMF-imposed austerity was pushing Europe deeper into crisis and causing intolerable poverty, just as it had in Latin America.

Apr 19, 2012

French Socialist says ECB must support growth, weaken euro

PARIS (Reuters) – The European Central Bank should be more active in supporting economic growth in the euro zone and should allow the single currency to weaken against the dollar to boost the bloc’s exports, a top aide to France’s presidential frontrunner said.

Jerome Cahuzac, a Socialist member of parliament and a senior advisor to candidate Francois Hollande on budgetary matters, said a more pro-growth approach did not imply rewriting the mandate of the central bank, which requires it to guarantee price stability.

Apr 19, 2012

“Friends of Syria say Annan plan is last hope

PARIS (Reuters) – The “Friends of Syria” coalition meeting in Paris on Thursday called a U.N.-backed peace plan the “last hope” to resolve the crisis and said they would do all they could to help it succeed, according to draft conclusions obtained by Reuters.

“Every day that passes means dozens of new Syrian civilian deaths,” the French-language statement said as French officials hosted senior diplomats from a dozen or so like-minded governments. “It is not time to prevaricate. It is time to act.”

Apr 19, 2012

France: Syria needs more observers, backup plan

PARIS, April 19 (Reuters) – France said on Thursday a
U.N.-backed peace mission needed to send at least 300-400
observers to Syria to succeed – higher than previous estimates –
adding foreign powers would discuss new ways to end the violence
in case the mission failed.

Damascus and the United Nations agreed on Thursday on the
terms for observers to enter the country to monitor a ceasefire,
called more than a year after the start of an uprising against
President Bashar al-Assad.

Apr 19, 2012

France says wants Syria humanitarian corridors

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for aid corridors to be set up in Syria to protect opponents of Bashar al-Assad and urged major powers to show unity to persuade Russia and China to drop their support for the Syrian president.

Ahead of a foreign ministers’ meeting in Paris on Thursday, Sarkozy repeated calls to create a safe passage for relief organizations – with Syrian approval or an international mandate – to get food and medicine to about 1 million civilians caught up in the fighting.

Apr 19, 2012

UN head says Syria yet to send clear signal on peace

UNITED NATIONS/PARIS, April 19 (Reuters) – Syria has not
fully withdrawn troops and heavy weapons from towns, failing to
send a “clear signal” about its commitment to peace, U.N. chief
Ban Ki-Moon said on Thursday, underlining Western fears for the
week-old truce.

In the first progress report since the Security Council
passed a resolution on Saturday authorising the deployment of
observers, Secretary-General Ban proposed an expanded mission of
300 personnel to monitor a shaky ceasefire between forces loyal
to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters.