PARIS, May 1 (UPI) -- Trade unions competed with political candidates in Paris and elsewhere in France to celebrate May Day with the election looming less than a week away.
With Sunday's final presidential vote looming, the national labor movement holiday transformed into campaign events for President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Party challenger Francois Hollande, France 24 reported.
Socialist leaders said they hoped the May Day march would build on the momentum Hollande's campaign has gathered to propel the party back into power after a 15-year absence.
The Sarkozy camp, trailing in the polls, said it hoped to outshine his opponents by gathering voters in a historic counter-celebration of what he calls "real work." His supporters were to rally near the Eiffel Tower in a separate event from the traditional labor fest.
National Front presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, knocked out in the April 22 first round after scoring nearly a record 18 percent of votes, scheduled her own rally in Paris in memory of far-right icon Joan of Arc.
"May 1 is about history, May 1 is about a desire for social change, May 1 is about international solidarity," said Danielle Tartakowsky, a contemporary history professor at Paris University VIII, said during a France 3 television interview Monday.
Hollande said he would be in Nevers to honor Pierre Beregovoy, the Socialist prime minister who committed suicide May 1, 1993. He said he wouldn't be in Paris because May Day belonged "to workers and unions."
Campaigning ends Friday and the lone televised debate between Sarkozy and Hollande Wednesday has been billed as the incumbent's last chance to sway voters from Hollande, Radio France Internationale reported.
The latest polling indicated Hollande held a 53 percent to 47 percent advantage over Sarkozy.