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Standing at the counter in one of two bars left in the central village of around 1,300 people, truck driver Michel Cadour counts off the restaurants that have closed in recent years.The fate of provincial towns and villages looms large over France's April 23-May 7 election, with voters in areas scarred by population decline and shrinking public services threatening to take revenge on mainstream politicians.France's countryside, provincial towns and the area between town and country are estimated by geographer Christophe Guilluy to contain 60 percent of the population.Traditionally rural areas in France have voted for candidates on the right, but many are now leaning toward the far-right.A shortage of doctors, which affects parts of Paris also but is most acute in central France, has come to symbolize the malaise of the rural dweller.On a walkabout of the town, estate agent Jerome Coquin pointed out the fake storefronts depicting thriving businesses painted by the city over shuttered shops.While acknowledging that there was "no miracle solution" for towns lacking the attractions of big cities or the country, he expressed frustration at the lack of decentralization in France.
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