Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

French to Hear Final Appeals Before Election

PARIS -- The French presidential campaign entered its final phase Monday with a series of carefully choreographed spots by candidates, two weeks before the first round of voting.

France's audiovisual regulator has allotted each candidate 45 minutes of airtime on public television until April 20 -- two days before the first round, when all candidates must stop their campaigning and no polls can be published.

Most recent surveys show Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate of the governing conservative party, as the front-runner for the April 22 vote, followed by Socialist Segolene Royal. Francois Bayrou, a candidate pledging to bridge France's traditional left-right divide, is third.

Polls suggest that aside from those three, far-right nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen appears to be the only other candidate with a chance of qualifying for the runoff on May 6.

Candidates will be chasing the many voters who are uncertain about what they want for France's future after 12 years under conservative President Jacques Chirac. A poll published Sunday by the CSA-Cisco agency suggested that 42 percent of French respondents had not yet made their choice.

France's national audiovisual council carefully controls the campaign to make sure that all the candidates get equal time. The three candidates selected at random to air their spots Monday were a hunter who champions rural traditions, a farmer turned anti-globalization activist and a far-right candidate who denounces what he calls "Islamization of France."