Paris, April 22 (IANS) The French government said Sunday that the presidential elections recorded a voter turnout of over 70 percent, slightly lower than the figure registered in 2007. This is likely to go up by the time the polls close at 8 p.m. (18.00 GMT).
According to the French interior ministry, the turnout for the first round of 2012 French presidential election stood at 70.59 percent at 5 p.m. local time (1500 GMT), slightly lower than the 73.87 in 2007, Xinhua reported.
However, the turnout surpassed previous surveys, as a recent Ifop poll suggested that 32 percent of voters could turn their backs on candidates in the first round, the ministry said.
Some 44.3 million French voters were registered to cast their ballots at 85,000 polling stations, which was scheduled to close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), after which the first round results would be released.
The latest available Ifop survey Friday showed that socialist candidate Francois Hollande, running neck-and-neck with President Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round, with each of the top two candidates garnering 27 percent of the votes, would be a comfortable winner in the May 6 run-off.
There are 10 candidates in all. In case, none wins over 50 percent of the votes, there will be a run-off May 6.
The presidential vote will be followed by a parliamentary election in June.