French election: The candidates – Nicolas Sarkozy is center-right candidate seeking re-election for a second term as French president. He has sought to reduce France's deficit by ending the 35-hour week, raise the retirement age beyond 60 and cut more than 160,000 public sector jobs.
French election: The candidates – Francois Hollande is center-left candidate who according to most opinion polls will beat Sarkozy in the second round of voting on May 6. He has pledged to increase taxes on the rich, boost social spending and create thousands of state jobs, but questions remain about his lack of experience and charisma.
French election: The candidates – Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen argues against both illegal and legal immigration, and the political integration of Europe and the euro. She goes into the election with protectionist policies for France, and opposes the privatization of the country's post office, which she says will hit rural areas hard.
French election: The candidates – Centrist candidate Francois Bayrou disagrees strongly with those, like President Sarkozy, who would like to see France and Germany taking the leading role in running Europe. He claims he is way ahead of his rivals, especially on his predictions five years ago that public debt would become a huge problem.
French election: The candidates – Communist-backed left-winger Jean-Luc Melenchon has struck a chord with many voters by attacking France's rich elite and EU-backed austerity measures. He vows to raise the minimum wage by 20%, ban profitable companies from laying off workers and confiscate income above 360,000 euros ($470,000) a year.
French election: The candidates – Green candidate Eva Joly has struggled to make much impact in the presidential election with financial concerns drowning out environmental issues for most voters. And some of her policies, such as a pledge to scrap the Bastille Day military parade and officialize Jewish and Muslim holidays, have appeared out of touch to many.