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France votes for president and path forward in debt-crisis

French voters headed to the polls Sunday in a presidential run-off between incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist challenger Francois Hollande.

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France voted in a presidential run-off election on Sunday that could see Socialist challenger Francois Hollande defeat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy by capitalizing on public anger over the government's austerity policies.

The election outcome will impact efforts to fight France's debt crisis, how long the nation's troops stay in Afghanistan, and how France exercises its military and diplomatic muscle around the world.

Hollande voted in his electoral fief of Tulle, in central France. Live television coverage showed the 57-year-old politician shaking hands and chatting with voters on his way into the polling station.

"It's going to be a long day," Hollande told reporters gathered to watch him vote. "It's up to the French people to decide if it's going to be a good day," he said.

Sarkozy, accompanied by first lady and former supermodel Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, voted at midday in Paris' 16th arrondissement. Scores of television cameras surrounded the couple, and members of the public could be heard chanting "Sarkozy! President!" But Sarkozy, 57, chose not to speak on live TV.

At midday voter turnout was 30.66 percent, down from 34.11 percent at the same time in the second round of the 2007 presidential election, according to figures released by the Interior Ministry.


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