French citizens are voting on Sunday in a crucial runoff that could see a Socialist win the presidential poll for the first time since 1988.
The two candidates competing in the second round are François Hollande, an opposition leader of the French Socialist Party, and Nicolas Sarkozy, incumbent president and leader of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement. The first round of the presidential race in France ended on April 22.
Socialist Hollande is leading in the latest French opinion polls, with 52.5-53.5 percent of voters saying they intend to vote for him.
Sarkozy, who had gained 27.18 percent in the April 21-22 first round, needed a breakthrough in Wednesday’s television debate in order to retake the lead from Hollande, who had received 28.63 percent.
However, most TV viewers gave preference to Hollande, saying they were impressed by his confident manner.
If elected, Hollande would be France's first Socialist president since Francois Mitterrand who served two seven-year terms in 1981-1995.
Hollande will wait for the announcement of election results in his native city Tulle. Sarkozy will be in Paris and is expected to deliver a speech to his supporters and journalists at the election headquarters after the name of the winner is known.