Sarkozy's chances fade two days before French runoff

By REUTERS
May 4, 2012 10:34

 
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PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy's chances of holding on to power were fading two days before France's election runoff, with far-right and centrist leaders refusing to endorse him and his usually bland Socialist rival performing confidently in a TV debate.

The last opinion polls published on Friday before Sunday's vote suggested that Socialist challenger Francois Hollande's lead has narrowed to as little as five percentage points from as much as 10 in the last few days as the race has tightened.

However, centrist Francois Bayrou buried one of Sarkozy's last hopes of catching up when he announced he would vote for Hollande on Sunday and left his supporters free to make up their own minds.

Bayrou, who came fifth in the first round with 9 percent, attacked Sarkozy's tough talk on immigration and Europe, aimed at winning over the nearly one in five voters who picked far-right leader Marine Le Pen in round one. The anti-immigration National Front leader also snubbed Sarkozy this week saying she would cast a blank vote on Sunday.

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