French Socialist Francois Hollande appeared headed to victory over President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to exit polls of voters released by Swiss and Belgian news media.
Those polls showed Hollande with 52 to 53 per cent of the vote in an election that turned on solutions for Europe’s economic crisis amid record unemployment in France.
French voters were still headed to cast their ballots when the exit polls were released but the outcome seemed all but certain.
Results in Greece, where voters were selecting new members of parliament on Sunday, also pointed to an upheaval for that country’s current leaders.
More than 46 million voters were expected to turn out for Sunday’s presidential election, which came two weeks after Hollande topped Sarkozy in a field of several candidates, with 28.6 per cent of the vote to Sarkozy’s 27.2.
Since then, Hollande has been the favourite, with not a single poll of hundreds predicting a Sarkozy victory. Sarkozy’s frenetic campaigning did cut Hollande’s lead, according to the last poll released Friday night, but not enough to reverse Hollande’s lead.
Hollande benefited from the ballots of voters who in the first round had gone for leftist and environmentalist candidates.
Sarkozy had courted conservative voters who in the first round had preferred Marine Le Pen of the National Front Party or centrist Francois Bayrou, but those voters either stayed home or split their votes between Sarkozy and Hollande.
If his victory is confirmed by the final results, Hollande will be the first leftist president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995, and Sarkozy will be the first president not to be granted a second term since 1981. Hollande’s term in office begins May 16.
With a four- or five-point margin of victory, Hollande has partially won the “ample victory” he asked from voters and makes it more likely he will be able to press his proposed policies.
Sarkozy’s center-right political party, the Union for a Popular Movement, will probably face reorganisation after his defeat. The party current holds a majority in the National Assembly, but that seems unlikely to hold with legislative elections scheduled for next month. — Agencies
I’m no trophy partner: Trierweiler
Valerie Trierweiler, Francois Hollande’s companion will be a reluctant First Lady of France. Trierweiler stays in the background.
She declines to be interviewed and journalists have been told they are not “campaigning as a couple”. The press does not call her Hollande’s partner but his “companion”
Did you know?
If elected, Hollande would be France’s first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand in 1981 and 1995.