With Sarkozy's Career on the Line, France Votes
Francois Hollande likely to head to runoff with Sarko
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2012 8:27 AM CDT
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy prepare to cast their votes in the first round of French presidential elections in Paris, Sunday, April 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/Eric Feferberg, Pool)
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(Newser) – Throngs are voting today in Round 1 of France's presidential elections in what's seen as a referendum on Nicolas Sarkozy's economic stewardship and divisive personality, reports the AP. Early polls show a 28% turnout in the vote, which will trim the field of 10 candidates to two for a May 6 runoff. Sarkozy and Socialist candidate Francois Hollande are expected to make the cut. "This is an election that will weigh on the future of Europe," Hollande said this morning after voting. "They're wondering not so much what the winner's name will be, but especially what policies will follow."

Hollande is riding a wave of populism, and has benefited from the Occupy movement; he has called for a 75% tax rate for the country's rich. "I think most people are not satisfied with the last five years, people want change, especially in terms of job creation," says one voter. Pundits put a Hollande victory within the realm of possibility, and Sarkozy has said that if made France's first one-term president since 1981 he will withdraw from politics.