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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 October 2006, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
France gears up for April polls
President Jacques Chirac
President Chirac avoided "cohabitation" with a Socialist PM
The French government has set 22 April 2007 as the date for the presidential election, with parliamentary elections scheduled for 10 and 17 June.

In the presidential poll a second round run-off will be held on 6 May between the two leading candidates.

President Jacques Chirac's five-year term expires in mid-May. He is not expected to run for a third term.

Nicolas Sarkozy is tipped to be the ruling UMP's candidate, while Segolene Royal is the Socialist front-runner.

Mr Chirac has been president since 1995. His government faced a wave of street violence in autumn 2005 by youths in deprived suburbs and mass protests earlier this year over controversial employment legislation.

The Socialist Party is due to announce its presidential candidate on 26 November.

The right-wing UMP will name its candidate on 17 January.

On 9 April the presidential election campaign will officially get under way.

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