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Voting begins in French election

Voters across France have begun casting ballots in a presidential run-off election that polls suggest will see Socialist challenger Francois Hollande defeat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy after just one term.

Polling stations opened in mainland France at 6am GMT, a day after voting got under way in France's overseas territories. Preliminary results are expected around 6pm GMT.

Mr Hollande beat Mr Sarkozy by about half a million votes in the first round of voting on April 22, which saw 10 candidates competing for the job of running the nuclear-armed country with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the next five years.

The first round turnout of around 80% was higher than expected and is being closely watched again, with polls suggesting Mr Sarkozy's best chance of an upset comes from even greater voter turnout.