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France presidential race set to intensify

France presidential race set to intensify
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In practice it has already long been in full swing, but the official campaign for the French presidential election begins on Monday.

Opinion polls suggest the current occupant of the Elysee Palace, Nicolas Sarkozy, has his work cut out to prevent the socialist Francois Hollande moving in next month.

With under two weeks to go until the first round, the candidates now have official permission to put up campaign posters – which must not be on a white background or combine the colours of the national flag, other than to reproduce an existing party emblem.

The airwaves will now reverberate to party political broadcasts, with each of the 10 candidates given the right to 43 minutes of airtime in total.

In recent weeks, surveys of voting intentions have been suggesting that although Sarkozy may top the first round vote, he still lags behind his socialist rival in the second, making a repeat of his 2007 celebrations an uphill struggle.