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Voting underway in France's presidential election, all candidates cast ballots (Update)

Paris , Sun, 22 Apr 2012 ANI

Paris, April 22 (Xinhua-ANI): All candidates of France's presidential election had cast their votes by noon local time on Sunday in the first round of the election. Voting will continue until 8 p.m. local time.

Incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy cast his ballot in the 16th Arrondisment (district) in Paris with his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy just before noon, the last of the 10 candidates to vote.

He left the polling station after waving to the crowds without making any statement.

Earlier, candidate Francois Hollande, representing the biggest opposition Socialist Party (PS), cast his vote in Tulle, central France, where he has served its mayor from 2001 to 2008.

"I am attentive, engaged, and above all respectable. That's what the French vote for," he told reporters after voting, adding that the day was "an important moment."

According to schedule, the poll-favorite would head to the PS headquarters in Paris where he would hold a meeting with his campaign team later in the afternoon.

The latest available IFOP survey released on Friday showed that Hollande, who would run neck-and-neck with Sarkozy in the first round, with each of the top two candidates enjoying 27 percent of votes, would be a comfortable winner in May 6 run-off.

Earlier in the day, other eight registered candidates also took their vote in their respective constituency elsewhere in France.

"Everything is going well, correctly," Nadia Salem, the man in charge of the No. 7 polling station in the 17th district of Paris told Xinhua.

The polling station, installed inside the College Boris Vian, should accommodate 1,249 registered voters.

Of the four voters interviewed by Xinhua on leaving the polling station, two said they had voted for Hollande, one for Sarkozy, and the other declined to reveal his decision.

"Sarkozy has made mistakes, but I've traditionally vote for the right. Unfortunately, I think Hollande will win, because according to what I said, and according to surveys, he will win," said a voter to Xinhua.

"The most urgent task for the president-elect is the management of the state," he added.

The first round of French presidential election officially kicked off at 8 a.m. local time in mainland France on Sunday, with 44.3 million registered French voters are expected to cast their ballots for one from a total of 10 candidates.

The 85,000 polling stations across the country usually close at 6 p.m. local time while in big cities at 8 p.m. local time.

The first official results would be issued after all the voting booths close. (Xinhua-ANI)

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