France: Hollande on top but Le Pen delivers record result | The Guardian

François Hollande has moved a step closer to becoming the first Socialist president of France in a generation by beating the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, in the first round of elections for the Elysée. But the surprisingly high vote for the extreme-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, boosted the overall figures for the right and meant that the final runoff vote on 6 May remains on a knife-edge. Partial results from the beginning of the count showed Hollande – a former Socialist party leader, rural MP and self-styled Mr Normal – with a clear lead at more than 28%, compared with Sarkozy on about 26%. Hollande’s is one of the left’s best ever results and will raise momentum for next month’s final run-off. The Socialist party is seeking to return to the presidency for the first time since François Mitterrand’s re-election in 1988. But Sarkozy’s total will be seen as a personal failure. It is the first time an outgoing president has failed to win a first-round vote in the past 50 years and makes it harder for Sarkozy to regain momentum. The final runoff vote between Hollande and Sarkozy now depends on a delicate balance of how France’s total of rightwing and leftwing voters line up.

Full Article: French presidential election: Hollande on top but Le Pen delivers record result | World news | The Guardian.

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