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

Far-right's Le Pen to announce vote choice _ 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.
About 3,000 Le Pen supporters marched in Paris before his planned speech at the capital's gilded Opera in which he was to indicate whether he will support Nicolas Sarkozy, Segolene Royal, or neither, in Sunday's runoff.
Many marchers seemed already to have made up their minds, chanting "Neither Sarko, nor Royal!" and "Le Pen, president!" Le Pen placed fourth in the April 22 first round balloting with 3.8 million votes, and was ousted from the race along with nine other candidates.
Polls suggest that front-running conservative Sarkozy could reap most of the support from Le Pen's voters in the second round. It would be a surprise if he were to throw his backing to Socialist Segolene Royal.
The march was one of about 250 rallies and demonstrations across the country Tuesday _ most of them mounted by left-leaning labor unions for the traditional May Day holiday celebration.
Unions were 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 would 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 telephone Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.


Updated : 2021-03-06 16:42 GMT+08:00