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Far-right's Le Pen to announce endorsement _ or none at all _ in French presidential race

Far-right's Le Pen to announce endorsement _ or none at all _ in French presidential race

Extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen was expected Tuesday to tell his supporters how he will vote in the weekend finale of France's presidential election _ or perhaps give no endorsement at all.
Ahead of Sunday's balloting, polls suggested front-running conservative Nicolas Sarkozy could reap most of the support among the 3.8 million French who voted for Le Pen in the April 22 primary. It would be a surprise if he were to throw his backing to Socialist Segolene Royal, Sarkozy's rival _ while Le Pen could call on his supporters to abstain or cast blank ballots.
Le Pen was leading one of an estimated 250 rallies and demonstrations across the country on Tuesday _ most of them mounted by left-leaning labor unions for the traditional May Day holiday celebration.
Unions are expected to turn out in force largely amid concerns that Sarkozy, if elected, will make good on his campaign pledge to require minimum service by workers in public transport during strikes.
Sarkozy held to his stance Tuesday, saying he would require three hours of bus and subway service during the morning and evening rush hours. Unions fear such a requirement could deplete their bargaining power against management.
"Is it normal when commuters are held hostage by monopoly public services over strikes that don't affect them?" he said on France-2 television.
Royal, meanwhile, was preparing what was expected to be a massive campaign rally at a Paris stadium later Tuesday.
The latest poll, released Tuesday by the Ipsos agency, put support for Sarkozy at 53 percent, to 47 percent for Royal.
Among those who cast ballots for Le Pen in the first round, 61 percent said they'd vote for Sarkozy, 15 percent supported Royal, while 24 percent planned to abstain or declined to say whom they would support.
The poll of 1,362 registered voters was conducted by phone Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.


Updated : 2021-07-24 17:16 GMT+08:00