As the brutal presidential election race is coming to an end, the election campaign has left French voters highly polarized as more are supporting extreme parties, a poll suggested.
French voters are among the most polarized in the European Union, with one in five describing themselves as "extreme" and only about a third as "centrist," according to the survey from the Bertelsmann Foundation.
It also showed an unusually high level of dissatisfaction in France with the direction of the country, underscoring the challenge that a new president will face.
Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron will face off against Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front on Sunday, the first time since the founding of the Fifth Republic nearly 60 years ago that neither of the main center-right and center-left parties are present in the runoff.
The Bertelsmann survey, conducted in March and based on the responses of 11,021 people across the EU, showed that 20 percent of French voters see themselves as either extreme right or extreme left, compared to just 7 percent in the wider EU. Of those, 14 percent of French described themselves as extreme right.
Just 36 percent said they saw themselves as centrist, compared to 62 percent in the wider EU. Of those, 21 percent said they were center-left and 15 percent center-right.
The survey showed widespread dissatisfaction with the direction of policy in the country. Only 4 percent of far-right voters and 16 percent of far-left voters say they are satisfied.
The survey showed strong support for keeping France in the EU and the euro among far-left, center-left and center-right voters, with only far-right voters favoring a departure from the bloc and the single currency.
Sunday's presidential election is one of the country's most decisive contests in decades. It marks the first time since 1974 that neither presidential candidate is from a mainstream party.
According to an Elabe poll for BFM TV and L'Express, Macron will become president with 62 percent of the vote compared to 38 percent for Le Pen, an increase of three points for the centrist candidate compared to previous polls results.
Macron was outgoing President Francois Hollande's top adviser on economic issues from 2012 to 2014, and served as economy minister in the president's socialist government for two years. The ex-investment banker later founded his own political movement, En Marche! (On the move), in April last year. The centrist candidate has received the backing of several national and international political personalities during the final week of campaigning, most recently from former U.S. President Barack Obama. However, the fear of high abstention - in particular among leftist voters who refuse to choose between Macron and Le Pen - is putting a possible victory for Macron at risk. Around 25 percent of the French electorate are likely to abstain, according to an Odoxa poll published on Friday.
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