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Sarkozy trails, Hollande frontrunner for French presidency

Last updated on: April 23, 2012 13:19 IST

Sarkozy trails, Hollande frontrunner for French presidency

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Socialist candidate Francois Hollande stamped his authority on the French presidential race on Monday, winning the first round of polling and setting up a May 6 run-off with incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

Hollande won between 28 and 30 per cent of the vote in the first round, to Sarkozy's 24 to 27.5, according to estimates compiled from ballot samples by several polling agencies.

That made Sarkozy the only incumbent French president to lose a first round-vote in the history of the Fifth Republic, which came into being in 1958.

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Image: Francois Hollande, Socialist party candidate, and Nicolas Sarkozy, France's incumbent president photographed during the first round 2012 French presidential election April 22
Photographs: Reuters

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Sarkozy trails, Hollande frontrunner for French presidency

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Official results were not to be made available until polls closed in major urban centres at 8:00 pm (23:30 IST), but the tendency was clear and the mood at Sarkozy's campaign headquarters was resigned and sombre.

"I want to thank warmly the voters who, through their votes, have placed me in this position," Hollande told supporters in Paris on Sunday night. "This is an act of trust of confidence in my (positions) that I have presented to the French people."

Hollande, said he was best placed to be president after voters "punished" incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

"I am today the best placed candidate to become the next French president," Hollande told a large crowd in his constituency in central France.



Image: Francois Hollande, Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 French presidential election, reacts with supporters in Tulle after early results in the first round vote of the 2012 French presidential election
Photographs: Reuters

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Sarkozy trails, Hollande frontrunner for French presidency

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Sarkozy - who has been in power since 2007 - said he understood "the anguish felt by the French" in a "fast-moving world".

He called for three debates during the two weeks to the second round - centring on the economy, social issues, and international relations, reports the BBC.

According to the first opinion polls after Sunday's first round vote, Hollande will beat Sarkozy in the second round of France's presidential election by 54 per cent to 46.



Image: France's President Nicolas Sarkozy speaks to supporters at La Mutualite meeting hall in Paris after early results in the first round vote of the 2012 French presidential election April 22
Photographs: Reuters

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Sarkozy trails, Hollande frontrunner for French presidency

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A survey by the Ipsos institute commissioned by French public television and the daily Le Monde predicted a majority of those who backed candidates eliminated in the first round would switch to the frontrunner in the run-off.

A separate poll by Ifop for Europe 1 radio and news weekly Paris Match predicted a similar margin, with Hollande winning by 54.5 percent to 45.5 for the incumbent right-winger.


Image: A newspaper hawker displays an early edition of Le Figaro outside the Mutualite meeting hall in Paris after the first round of the 2012 French presidential election
Photographs: Reuters

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Sarkozy trails, Hollande frontrunner for French presidency

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Ten candidates were in the race -- Hollande and Sarkozy -- being trailed by far-right flag-bearer Marine Le Pen, hard-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, veteran centrist Francois Bayrou and a handful of outsiders.

Le Pen came third with between 17 and 20 per cent, beating bitter enemy Melenchon, who scored between 10.5 and 13 per cent. Bayrou won between 8.7 and 10 per cent, according to the estimates seen by AFP.


Image: A supporter for Francois Hollande attends a campaign rally in Charleville-Mezieres
Photographs: Reuters

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