Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

#TECH 24

Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

Read more

WEB NEWS

Israel and Hamas battle online over public opinion

Read more

FOCUS

Can Chancellor Merkel's winning streak last?

Read more

FOCUS

Hunger in a fertile land...

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria: One Hundred Days and Counting (part 2)

Read more

  • Live: Algerian jet with 116 on board 'crashes' in northern Mali

    Read more

  • ‘Many’ French passengers on board missing Algerian plane

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death arrives in Italy

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • In pictures: Thousands march for Gaza peace in Paris

    Read more

  • France charges Swiss bank UBS with tax fraud

    Read more

  • Israel faces heightened diplomatic pressure as Gaza violence rages

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

  • Bomb attacks leave scores dead in north Nigeria

    Read more

France

Socialist Hollande triumphs in French presidential poll

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2012-05-06

Left-wing candidate François Hollande has defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's runoff, exit polls say, becoming the first Socialist to win a presidential election since François Mitterrand in 1988.

François Hollande has won France’s presidential election, giving the country its first Socialist president in almost two decades, exit polls showed Sunday.

According to Ipsos polling institute, the left-wing candidate took 51.7% of the vote to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy’s 48.3%.

Celebrations are underway at the iconic Place de la Bastille in central Paris, the same spot where the last Socialist to win a presidential election, François Mitterrand, celebrated his first victory back in 1981.

Hollande, who voted on Sunday in the central Corrèze region, which he represents in the French parliament, was considered the frontrunner throughout the campaign, at times leading his rival by as much as 10% in opinion polls.

He finished ahead in the first round on April 22, claiming 28.63% of votes cast against Sarkozy's 27.18%.

In a twin blow to Sarkozy between the two rounds, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and centrist François Bayrou, who gathered around 18% and 9% respectively in the first round, both denied the incumbent an endorsement. Bayrou told supporters his personal vote would go to Hollande, while Le Pen said she would cast a blank vote.

At 80%, according to Ipsos, voter turnout was strong, though slightly lower than the 84% reached in 2007.

Hollande is due to be sworn in as France’s president on May 14 or 15.

Winning platform

Sunday's election capped a stunning comeback for Hollande, whose career appeared to be all but over after he left the leadership of the Socialist Party in 2008.

It also marked the end of a year-long campaign for the veteran politician, who won his party’s internal primaries in October of last year, establishing himself from the start as a moderate left-winger with the best chances of appealing to centrists and beating Sarkozy.

In an often bitter presidential campaign, Hollande promised to hire more staff to boost France’s state education system and to reduce the retirement age from 62 to 60 for people who have completed a minimum 41 years of work.

He also pledged to raise taxes on the wealthy and balance the country's budget by 2017.

And while both the far right and Sarkozy adopted an anti-immigration stance during the campaign, the Socialist candidate stood by a promise to give foreigners the right to vote in local elections.

Socialists return to power

On Sunday, Sarkozy became only the second French president to fail to claim a second mandate since Valéry Giscard d'Estaing was swept out of office in 1981.

It was also the first time the Socialist Party won a presidential contest since Mitterrand's re-election in 1988.

France's Socialists will be hoping to use the vote’s momentum to win back a majority in parliament in elections this June.

Before then, governments around the world will be keenly watching Hollande's first steps on the issue of Europe’s continuing debt crisis

The Socialist president-elect, who has emerged as a new champion for Europe's anti-austerity camp, was expected to call German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday evening.

Merkel, who has advocated strict austerity in Europe, backed Sarkozy in the elections.

“He will talk with the German chancellor because in that exchange lies the key to Europe’s recovery, redirecting Europe towards growth, competitiveness and protection,” said Jean-Marc Ayrault, a prominent Socialist who is being touted as a possible future prime minister.

A meeting of the so-called Group of Eight leading world economies on May 18 in the United States could be the first opportunity for Hollande to shake hands with President Barack Obama and other heads of state.

 

Date created : 2012-05-06

  • FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012

    Live blog: Hollande's victory as it happened

    Read more

  • FRENCH ELECTION 2012

    Centrist Bayrou's tactical game in supporting Hollande

    Read more

  • FRANCE 24/RFI EXCLUSIVE

    Hollande says Sarkozy has damaged France’s image

    Read more

COMMENT(S)