France election: Hollande takes lead into second round


French President Nicolas Sarkozy says a "crucial time has now come" for the people of France

French President Nicolas Sarkozy faces an uphill struggle in the second round of the presidential election, after coming second in Sunday's first vote.

He won 27.1% of the vote, while his Socialist rival Francois Hollande took 28.6%, the first time a sitting president has lost in the first round.

The two men will face each other in a second round of voting on 6 May.

Third-place Marine Le Pen took the largest share of the vote her far-right National Front has ever won, with 18%.

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris says Mr Hollande's narrow victory in this round gives him crucial momentum ahead of the run-off in two weeks' time.

Analysts suggest Mr Sarkozy, leader of the ruling centre-right UMP, will now need to woo the far-right voters who backed Ms Le Pen if he is to hold on to the presidency. But Mr Hollande remains the front runner.

Mr Sarkozy began reaching out to Ms Le Pen's voters on Monday, saying "there was this crisis vote that doubled from one election to another - an answer must be given to this crisis vote".

Around one in five people voted for the National Front candidate, including many young and working class voters, putting her ahead of seven other candidates.

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Whereas Francois Hollande can tack to the centre, President Sarkozy must appeal to the right”

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How many debates?

The election has been dominated by economic issues, with voters concerned with sluggish growth and rising unemployment.

Ms Le Pen, who campaigned on a nationalist, anti-immigration platform, said she would wait until May Day next week to give her view on the second round.

She told jubilant supporters that the result was "only the start" and that the party was now "the only opposition" to the Left.

Opinion polls taken after voting on Sunday suggested that between 48 and 60% of Le Pen voters would switch to backing Mr Sarkozy in the second round.

But pollsters also predict a large abstention rate in the second round.

The BBC's Europe editor Gavin Hewitt says the result revealed a dissatisfaction and restlessness in France, creating political volatility. The elites are despised, the economic future is feared and there is insecurity, he says.

First round results of the French presidential elections

Nearly a fifth of voters backed a party - the National Front - that wants to ditch the euro and return to the franc.

But polls suggest Mr Hollande will comfortably win the second round.

As the results came in, he said he was "best placed to become the next president of the republic" and that Mr Sarkozy had been punished by voters.

"The choice is simple, either continue policies that have failed with a divisive incumbent candidate or raise France up again with a new, unifying president," Mr Hollande said.

It is the first time a French president running for re-election has failed to win the first round since the start of the Fifth Republic in 1958.

Mr Sarkozy - 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.

Mr Hollande promptly rejected the idea. He told reporters that the traditional single debate ahead of the second round was sufficient, and that it should "last as long as necessary".

Far-right shock


There is one clear favourite - Hollande. He has a big pool of votes on his left, and he's guaranteed to get them, more or less.

On the right there isn't the same automaticity with Le Pen voters backing Sarkozy.

Marine Le Pen has solid support, she has pulled off a major coup - 6.3 million voters chose her.

She has a clear interest in Sarkozy losing. She wants his party to implode and her party to then pick up some right-wingers from his party and become the main opposition to the Left.

Turnout on Sunday was high, at more than 80%.

Ms Le Pen achieved more than the breakthrough score polled in 2002 by her father and predecessor, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who got through to the second round with more than 16%.

Leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who was backed by the Communist Party, came fourth with almost 12%.

He urged his supporters unconditionally to rally behind Mr Hollande in the run-off.

Centrist Francois Bayrou, who was hoping to repeat his high 2007 score of 18%, garnered only about 9%.

The BBC's Chris Morris in Paris says that if Mr Sarkozy cannot change the minds of a substantial number of people, he will become the first sitting president to lose an election since 1981.

Wages, pensions, taxation, and unemployment have been topping the list of voters' concerns.

President Sarkozy has promised to reduce France's large budget deficit and to tax people who leave the country for tax reasons.

Francois Hollande vows to be a "candidate for all" who want change in France

Mr Hollande has strongly criticised Mr Sarkozy's economic record.

The Socialist candidate has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1m euros a year.

He also wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers.

If elected, Mr Hollande would be France's first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand, who completed two seven-year terms between 1981 and 1995.


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Hollande in power

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  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    Always focusing on things that are not really much to do with it. if we want to make our society succesful we need to create a fairer system, one that rewards properly or we will just go down the pan as we are doing. Rich and their family and mates, so wealthy do pointless tasks. Poor so badly paid it isn't worth their while working. Can't be made poorer as on poverty line already. Bad sytem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    The FN are a symptom of the society created by liberal centre left politics.

    Multiculturalism is a myth. Its division and segregation.

    It will come home to roost when scapegoats are sought.

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    Sarko will pick up more from the FN than Hollande, but it will be incredibly tight. The French are not given to austerity. If Hollande wins, the EU will be in mortal danger; Merkel won't be able to work with him even if she wanted to. They are idealogically opposed. The austerity pact will be ripped up. Tax and spend will drag Europe down, and the Euro will fail. Sarkozy is the lesser of 2 evils.

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    Most people, here and abroad, do not want immigrants. We do not need immigrants. We have trouble providing houses and jobs for them.

    We have had a couple of generations of mass immigration now. This is not fear of the unknown, but dislike of the present. The so-called liberals need to stop insulting others, and examine and admit their own mistakes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    Emmmm the Beeb upto it';s antics again?

    Why my post # 44 deleted yet # 271 remains. I can't see why it was deleted in the first place?

    Also, I've had my post deleted before they even appeared on a couple of occasions! Is this because there are variance between moderators, bias maybe or something more sinister?

    I do hope Sarky gets kicked out France just might think better of us!

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    The problem in France and all over Europe now is immigration. Local populations don't want immigrants. The government want bring immigrant to do dirty jobs, fill the population gap. Trouble is immigrant comes with their culture. Immigrant pay rent for houses that might be empty.Immigrant pay for light. Immigrant buy food in local stores all these keep Europe alive without WHICH France&EU is inTRBL

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    324.Eddy from Waring

    Anti-skirts? Well that's intolerance for you - moderate muslims won't react that way.

    As for calls to prayer, you could argue the same thing about loud/obnoxious clubs/pubs when you're going about your business, or screaming kids.

    I guess what i'm trying to say here, the problems are with the PEOPLE, not the RELIGION.

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    It is surprising to find people on HYS who are passionate about this let alone give a damn!

  • Comment number 327.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    "Had it not been for Stalin-Hitler Pact WWII would have most likely not occured. :-("

    That's a strawman.

    Neville Chamberlain or Daladier would not have said it any better.

    'you will find that Capitalism (and Fascism) has caused much more suffering to the general population than Socialism ever could.'

    Read on the scope of mass homicides of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim...

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    "socialists will bring France to it's knees" Urr, aren't they like all of Western Europe on their knees now? The socialsits will just be roughly the same, but a bit easier on the peopel that do so that we don't have strikes. What exactly was that idiot Callaghan?

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    "...Muslims make up ~3% of the UK population, but tend to be concentrated in small pockets, it's just immigration, not Islamification..."


    I only wish I could agree. However, when my OH is shouted at by clerics for riding her cycle, in a skirt througn such areas, and my walk from the car park to the supermarket spoiled by the call to prayer, from loudspeakers, I can't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    In French politics it seems that anyone who opposes the Socialists is automatically called a fascist. Marine Le Pen and her party are nationalists a word seemingly made dirty by the far left but which has legitimacy in a nation state. The ultra liberals imagine a state of no laws and no consequences where all desires are satisfied. Reality means nothing to them only narssicism made politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    Sarkozy has to win as the socialists wil bring France to it's knees, just as they did in Greece and as they are in Spain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    "W Europe had amazing improvements in prosperity after WW2. The communists didn't."

    Only because it was the US and British Army which liberated W. Europe.

    Not the Soviet RED Army.

    And because of the American Marshall Plan.

    Not Stalin's plan for Western Europe.

    [Communism all the way to Lisbon]

    And US military protection for half a century.

    [How soon they forget!]

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    What a wonderful system democracy is. Same as here. You can vote for right wingers who'll only help their wealthy mates and their friends. Or a bunch of right wingers who will villify to the point of stupidity, greedy grabbing foreigners, who have done little else wrong. Or th wonderful socialists who will spend their time helping their mates, even to the point of heredity these days (see Crewe).

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    @ 296

    I am sorry Farkyss but now I have to turn your own accusation back at you..
    3 % is a complete laugh.. You have swollowed the Media and Govnt Hype on this.. at 3 % why would Ken Livingstone say he wants to make London the Islamic capital of the World.. just hyperbole ?

  • Comment number 318.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 317.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    309.Tsunami of Logic
    306 mofro
    "Hitler was a Fascist, Hollande is a Socialist and nothing to do with the NF."

    Socialism is as big an evil as fascism. In fact worse - it has caused more suffering!

    To you maybe, but I think you will find that Capitalism (and Fascism) has caused much more suffering to the general population than Socialism ever could.


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