French Voters Cast Ballots in Presidential Polls French citizens go to the polls Sunday to elect their next president. The contrasting political platforms of the two candidates suggest a divided France. Socialist Segolene Royal and conservative Nicolas Sarkozy won last month's first round of voting.
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French Voters Cast Ballots in Presidential Polls

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French Voters Cast Ballots in Presidential Polls

French Voters Cast Ballots in Presidential Polls

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LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Eleanor Beardsley sends this report.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHOPPING)

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Alan Bassousa(ph) has been cutting up meat in his Paris butcher shop for the last 52 years. Rotisserie chickens turn on a spit outside of Boucherie Alan(ph). Inside, the floor is covered with sawdust. As Bassousa expertly trims a lamb shank, he explains why he thinks France needs Sarkozy.

ALAN BASSOUSA: (Through translator) In France, no one wants to get up and go to work early anymore. People are helped too much by the government. So people like us who work 10 and 12 hours a day pay for all the idlers. Too much is too much. We need to get France back on the right track. And I'm voting for Sarkozy.

BEARDSLEY: While butcher Bassousa thinks those are all admirable plans, they scare 35- year-old insurance agent Cyril Bon Fit(ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDREN PLAYING)

BEARDSLEY: Bon Fit who is picnicking with his wife and son in the Andre Citroen Park near the Seine River, said Segolene Royal's vision of the country is closer to his own.

CYRIL BON FIT: (Through translator) We're looking for a fair and more balanced society. For example, we can't accept that a CEO's salary is 1,000 times higher than it's employees. Sarkozy divides people and plays on their fears. Segolene Royal does not have a selfish individualistic approach, but rather one for the collective good.

SEGOLENE ROYAL: (French Spoken)

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHEERING)

BEARDSLEY: Serge Sur is a professor of public law at University of Paris II. He says the French differ over the solutions to the country's problems, not the problems themselves, and France is far less divided than it was 30 years ago.

SERGE SUR: You do not have two Frances socially. There is no longer a divide between a working class and a bourgeoisie. You have a main middle class. You have no longer an ideological divide. Because communism is dead and people who are voting for the far right it's not for ideological reasons, it's a kind of despair. It's no longer a divide in terms of values, because all region is not an act of divide between French people, and you have a lot of consensus about humanitarian values.

BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleonor Beardsley in Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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