US & Canada

New Hampshire sets presidential primary date

Rick Perry hands in his documentation for the New Hampshire primary 28 October 2011
Image caption Candidates have signed forms in recent weeks registering for the primary

New Hampshire's presidential primary will be held on 10 January 2012, finalising the early season election calendar after months of uncertainty.

The date was confirmed after Nevada Republicans voted to shift their presidential caucus to early February.

The western state had originally scheduled its contest for mid-January.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner warned that his state's primary would be held in December if Nevada did not change its initial date.

The 2012 election season will begin on the first working day of the 2012, with the Iowa caucuses on 3 January.

Traditionally, the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire have been paired as "first-in-the-nation", a distinction threatened in this election cycle by the earlier scheduling of contests in Nevada and Florida.

Mr Gardner, who has sole authority in New Hampshire to set the primary date, stressed the political importance of his state's contest.

"No-one has finished below second and become president since we've started listing the candidates," he said.

He thanked his counterparts in Iowa and South Carolina for supporting New Hampshire's wish to be the first primary of 2012.

"They were very helpful at the critical time during the last month... demonstrating the solidarity of the early states," Mr Gardner said.

New Hampshire's primary will now be followed by January nomination contests in South Carolina and Florida.

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