Paris On the last day of France's tense presidential campaign, extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen predicted widespread electoral fraud in Sunday's vote perhaps preparing his faithful for defeat while President Jacques Chirac urged liberal voters to side with him, even if it pains them.
Chirac sounded an urgent plea on Friday, asking voters of all political leanings, but particularly those of the left, to "stand in the way" of Le Pen, whom he called an "extremely dangerous" man.
"In the exceptional situation we find ourselves in today," Chirac told France-Inter radio, "we must defend the values that all non-extremist Frenchmen have in common."
As both candidates wrapped up their 12-day campaigns, polls continued to predict a landslide victory for Chirac. French election laws require all campaigning, political declarations and street protests to stop 24 hours before election day.
Le Pen alleged that a massive vote-rigging scheme would hurt him, in remarks that appeared aimed at bracing his supporters for loss.
"We are going to witness an enormous enterprise of fraud," Le Pen told a news conference.
As a purported example, Le Pen held up two ballots one for Chirac and one for himself. The one for Chirac was slightly whiter, which Le Pen said was an effort to make voting for him less desirable if only subliminally.