On the final day of campaigning in France's presidential election, French President Nicolas Sarkozy's socialist challenger Francois Hollande leads the incumbent by 6 percentage points before Sunday’s decisive poll.
Sarkozy’s chances to be re-elected might have been torpedoed for good on Friday when centrist candidate Francois Bayrou (who won 9 percent of the vote in the first-round of the election) threw his support behind Hollande.
Perhaps the president’s last shred of hope will come from the sizable contingent of French voters who supported the extreme right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front.
Sarkozy has appealed to these voters’ fears and insecurities about immigration and the euro -- he desperately needs their votes if he is to upset Hollande on Sunday.
However, Le Pen, who grabbed an unprecedented 19 percent of the first-round vote, has refused to endorse either Sarkozy or Hollande and said she will cast a blank ballot as a form of protest.
She even expressed her disdain for Sarkozy by declaring he had been “beaten a long time ago.”
Le Pen is likely positioning herself as the face of the opposition right wing under a Socialist administration of Hollande and is looking for her party to gain seats in the National Assembly in June parliamentary elections for the first time ever.
Meanwhile, Sarkozy told French radio on Friday that if he is re-elected, he would form a new government within 48 hours.
He also shrugged off Bayrou -- who complained that Sarkozy has moved too far to the right – noting that he won the 2007 election without Bayrou's endorsement. Sarkozy also downplayed the polls, which predict his imminent demise.
There is a feeling among the French that this avalanche of commentaries and polls ... is robbing them of some of their freedom, Sarkozy told French radio.
However, he also waxed philosophical about what Sunday may bring.
The nation follows its course. The nation is stronger than the destiny of the men who serve it, he said.
The fact that the campaign is ending is more of a relief than a worry.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.