PARIS (AP) — The final polls before France's presidential election Sunday show President Nicolas Sarkozy making up ground on Socialist challenger Francois Hollande — but still predict a Hollande victory.
Sarkozy on Friday predicted a "surprise" and Hollande urged his voters to avoid complacency as the bitter campaign neared its climax, driven by fears about joblessness, immigration and France's economic future.
The result will impact on Europe's efforts to fight its debt crisis, how long French troops stay in Afghanistan and how France exercises its military and diplomatic muscle around the world.
Sarkozy, disliked by many voters for his handling of the economy, promised he could come out victorious on Sunday. Speaking on Europe-1 radio Friday, he said much will depend on whether French voters bother to cast ballots in an election that polls have always predicted Hollande would win.
But he also sounded increasingly philosophical and prepared for possible defeat.
Asked Friday what he would do if he loses, Sarkozy said simply, "there will be a handover of power."
"The nation follows its course. The nation is stronger than the destiny of the men who serve it," he said. "The fact that the campaign is ending is more of a relief than a worry."
Hollande urged his followers against complacency. "Victory is within our grasp!" he said in a rousing rally in the southern city of Toulouse on Thursday night.
Polls released Friday and Thursday show the gap between the candidates shrinking but results still solidly in Hollande's favor.
A poll by the BVA agency shows 52.5 percent support for Hollande and 47.5 percent for Sarkozy. A poll by the agency CSA shows 53 percent for Hollande and 47 percent for Sarkozy.