French centrist Bayrou announces presidential run

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Centrist Francois Bayrou, the third-placed candidate in France's last presidential vote, threw his hat into the ring Wednesday for next year's election, vowing "a new chapter" for the country.

"France has for years been going badly. A shock is needed," Bayrou said as he announced his candidacy in Paris.

The French people, he said, want "to turn the page, emerge from this dead end and fog and open a new chapter in our history".

Bayrou, leader of the MoDem (Democratic Movement) party, won 19 percent of the vote in first round of the 2007 contest when he trailed behind the eventual winner Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist candidate Segolene Royal.

Centrists have struggled to win ground in France's crowded political field and a poll released this week showed only nine percent of respondents intending to vote for Bayrou.

The BVA poll of 985 voters showed Socialist candidate Francois Hollande ahead with 35 percent of intended votes, followed by Sarkozy with 24.5 percent and the leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, with 17 percent.

France will vote in the first round of a presidential election in April and potentially a second round in May, followed by parliamentary elections in June.

© 2011 AFP

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