President Sarkozy, whose personal unpopularity dominated the campaign, is the first head of state to come second in a first-round poll since France switched to presidential politics 50 years ago. Even a barn-storming performance by Mr Sarkozy in TV debates with Mr Hollande in the next two weeks seems unlikely to save his presidency in the two-candidate, second round on 6 May.
In a speech to ecstatic supporters in his fiefdom in Tulle, south-west France, Mr Hollande said: "I am now in a position of strength to be the next President of the Republic...This vote is a disavowal of the policies, and the personal behaviour, of the outgoing candidate, whose campaign in recent weeks has finally served the interests of the National Front."
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Economy Euro European Central Bank Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010 France Germany
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