French go to parliamentary polls

The polls are open in France for the final round in the country's parliamentary election. President Nicolas Sarkozy hopes to win a strong majority to support his plans for reforms, including increasing the country's value added tax.

The elections’ outcome is crucial for President Sarcozy, since he needs as many parliamentarians as possible to support for his plans to implement a series of reforms aimed at boosting the French economy. And unlike his predecessors, Mr Sarkozy is determined to be a ’president who governs’ and urges the nation to give him a powerful majority in Parliament.

One of these reforms is to increase the Value Added Tax to fund a reduction in the employers’ social security contributions. President Sarkozy says it will curb jobs from moving abroad, while the opposition claims it will only hit the poor and will be just another tax break for the rich.

The French conservative paper Le Figaro expects Sarcozy’s Union for a Popular Movement to receive as many as 400 seats in the National Assembly. And the Ipsos/Deli opinion poll has projected the UMP and its centre-right associates would win from 380 to 420 seats. The same poll also suggests the Socialists would raise their representation from 149 in the outgoing parliament to as many as 195 seats – after they criticized Sarkozy's plans to raise VAT.

Sunday's voting lasts from eight in the morning until eight in the evening, the time when the first results will be projected on French Television.