France sets 2012 presidential election dates

Dominique Strauss-Kahn (left) and Nicolas Sarkozy - rival French politicians tipped by analysts to stand in the next election (combination picture of recent images) Dominique Strauss-Kahn (left) and Nicolas Sarkozy are seen as likely rivals in the next race

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The two rounds of the 2012 French presidential election will be held on 22 April and 5 May, the government has announced in Paris.

A two-round parliamentary election will follow on 10 and 17 June, said government spokesman Francois Baroin.

Opinion polls suggest sitting President Nicolas Sarkozy would struggle against a strong Socialist contender.

The popularity of far right leader Marine Le Pen has alarmed other parties across the political spectrum.

Since Mr Sarkozy won the 2007 election by a convincing margin, the centre-right leader has had to grapple with public anger over his austerity policies.

While the Socialists have yet to pick their candidate, opinion polls suggest IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn would be their strongest choice.

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