Final dates set for 2007 French election

24th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 24, 2006 (AFP) - The French government on Tuesday fixed Sunday April 22 as the date for the first round of the presidential election, with the second-round decider two weeks later on May 6.

PARIS, Oct 24, 2006 (AFP) - The French government on Tuesday fixed Sunday April 22 as the date for the first round of the presidential election, with the second-round decider two weeks later on May 6.

Elections for a new National Assembly — the lower house of parliament — will follow on Sundays June 10 and 17, government spokesman Jean-François Copé announced.

Under the 2000 constitutional reform that reduced the president's mandate to five from seven years, presidential and legislative terms are meant to run more or less concurrently to avoid the risk of so-called 'cohabitation' between opposing parties.

The frontrunners in the presidential race are Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, 51, of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and the Socialist Party's (PS) Ségolène Royal, 53, though neither has yet been formally designated a candidate.

President Jacques Chirac, 73, who has been in office since 1995, has refused to rule out running for a third term, though polls show he would have little chance of winning.

In most French elections, several candidates compete in the first round and if none reaches 50 percent of the vote the two leaders face off in round two.

The PS is to designate its candidate after a vote of some 200,000 party members on November 16 — with a second round on November 23 if none of the three contenders reaches 50 percent.

The UMP is to nominate its challenger — almost certainly Sarkozy — at a party congress on January 13 and 14.

March 20 is the cut-off date for declarations in the presidential race. Candidates have to collect 500 "sponsorships" from elected officials to qualify for the vote. In the 2002 election there were 16 candidates in round one.

The official campaign — when rules come into force on broadcasting time — will start on April 9.

Chirac won the 2002 election by 82.2 percent to 17.8 percent over far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who surprised the nation when he came in ahead of the socialist Lionel Jospin in the first round.

In the first round of the 2002 vote more than half of those eligible to vote either abstained or chose parties of the far left or right.

Chirac's term officially ends on May 16, 2007.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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