France is voting Sunday for a successor to outgoing President Jacques Chirac. The run-off election pits two candidates that represent starkly different visions for the country. Many said they did not like either choice and considered spoiling their ballot. Swiss and Belgian media, citing exit polls, show Sarkozy winning between 53 and 55 percent of the vote over Royal Anita Elash reports from Paris.
Pollings stations across France were busy Sunday and in some places people lined up even before the polls opened.
Voters are choosing between two starkly different candidates. Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, wants to restore French national identity and is proposing tough reforms to boost the faltering economy. Socialist candidate Segolene Royal has proposed left-wing economic policies and a program for what she calls "change without brutality."
The latest polls predict Sarkozy will win with a clear majority. But many voters said they did not like either choice. One man in downtown Paris said he chose Sarkozy, but said he found neither candidate convincing and considered spoiling his ballot as a protest.
"One of the two candidates has shown really lack of expertise and as to the other the program may have been a little bit more concrete but I have a lot of suspicion as to, let's say, her personal honesty," a voter says.
For most of the campaign, Royal and Sarkozy were courteous to each other, but in the past few days the attacks became more personal. Royal said Sarkozy was a dangerous choice and that his election would lead to riots in multi-ethnic suburbs, where he is despised. Sarkozy said Royal was desperate.
Extra police have been deployed in the regions around Paris to maintain security after a winner is announced.