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May 07, 2012, 02.28 PM IST | Source: PTI

Socialist Hollande ousts Sarkozy in French vote

Socialist Hollande ousts Sarkozy in French vote

Paris, May 6 (AFP) Francois Hollande was elected France's first Socialist president in nearly two decades today, dealing a humiliating defeat to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and shaking up European politics. The result will have major implications for Europe as it struggles to emerge from a financial crisis and for France, the eurozone's second-largest economy and a nuclear-armed permanent member of the UN Security Council. Hollande won the vote with about 52 per cent, according to several estimates from polling firms based on ballot samples, becoming France's first Socialist president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995. Joyful crowds gathered in Hollande's adopted hometown of Tulle and in Paris to celebrate his victory. "We are rid of a poison that was blighting our society. A normal president! It gives us a lot to dream about," said Didier Stephan, a 70-year-old artist who was among throngs of supporters at Paris's Place de la Bastille. Even before polls closed and broadcasters released estimates, supporters were chanting "President Hollande!" and "We Won!" at the iconic square. Sarkozy urged leaders of his right-wing UMP party to remain united after his defeat, but warned he would not lead it into June's parliamentary elections, according to political sources present at a meeting at his headquarters. Hollande led in opinion polls throughout the campaign and won the April 22 first round with 28.6 per cent to Sarkozy's 27.2 per cent -- making the right-winger the first-ever incumbent to lose in the first round. Grey skies and rain showers greeted voters across much of France, but turnout was high, hitting 71.96 per cent at 5 pm (local time) according to interior ministry figures. More than 46 million people were eligible to vote. (More) AFP

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