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France prepares for presidential ballot

A picture taken on April 21, 2012 in Paris, shows a sticker representing France's incumbent President and right-wing ruling party Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) candidate for the French 2012 presidential election Nicolas Sarkozy, on an UMP campaign poster, the day before the first round of the 2012 French presidential election.

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Story highlights

  • Voters in overseas territories go to the polls in France' presidential election
  • Voting across mainland France takes place on Sunday
  • No campaigning is allowed on the day before the election and no polls can be published
  • Nicolas Sarkozy faces challengers including Francois Hollande and Jean-Luc Melenchon

France prepared Saturday to vote in presidential elections that see incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy pitted against challengers including Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.

Voting started Saturday in France's overseas territories, including Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Martinique and French Polynesia.

Voters in mainland France will go to the polls Sunday.

Under French law, no political campaigning of any kind is allowed on the day before the election and no opinion polls can be published.

Ten candidates are on the ballot in the first round of voting.

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As well as Sarkozy and Hollande, they include Jean-Luc Melenchon on the extreme left, Marine Le Pen on the extreme right, Francois Bayrou, a centrist, and Eva Joly, for the Greens.

    If no candidate wins an absolute majority, a runoff election between the two with the most votes will take place on May 6.

    The economy and jobs have been key election issues, as France struggles to overcome low growth and a 10% unemployment rate.