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Centrist Francois Bayrou said Wednesday he does not intend to back any candidate in the runoff
Centrist Francois Bayrou, who gained 18.5% of the vote in Sunday's presidential election in France, said Wednesday he does not intend to back any candidate in the runoff. Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate of the ruling conservative party, scored 31.2% of the vote, and Segolene Royal, his main Socialist rival and potentially France's first woman president, received 25.7%, according to preliminary official reports. The runoff has been slated for May 6. Bayrou said he will not issue any guidelines to his party members on how to vote in the runoff. "I will not give any instructions. I suggest that the French people who voted for me are conscientious citizens who are free to make their own choice," he said. He said he does not intend to join any camps or jump on any bandwagon. He also said he does not plan to join the new government formed after the election. "Accepting a ministerial post in the present climate is totally out of the question for me," he said. The Interior Ministry put the turnout at 85%, a level similar to the 1965 elections, when the French elected their president for the first time via a direct poll. Experts attributed the high voter numbers to the election's importance for France, which has been rocked by student protests and youth riots in immigrant suburbs against job discrimination in recent years. The main rivals - both post-war generation politicians - have pledged to cut government costs and preside over radical changes, with former Interior Minister Sarkozy highlighting economic reform and public order and Royal focusing on welfare and a fairer society. Several outsiders in the presidential race have already voiced their support for Royal. The Communist Party leader, Marie-George Buffet, appealed to her voters to support Royal May 6. Another leftist leader, Arlette Laguiller, Green Party leader Dominique Voynet, and the anti-globalist far left candidate Jose Bove have followed suit. None of them have so far voiced support for Sarkozy. Le Pen has said he will announce his preference May 1. But surveys indicate the ruling party's candidate is likely to win. Ipsos opinion center said 54% of voters would support Sarkozy May 6, while Royal would gain 46% of the vote.
Print Centrist Francois Bayrou said Wednesday he does not intend to back any candidate in the runoff Bookmark Centrist Francois Bayrou said Wednesday he does not intend to back any candidate in the runoff

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