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UPDATE: Partial results and projections by polling agencies have made it clear that Socialist candidate François Hollande is the next president of France by a clear margin, reports Reuters. Incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy has admitted defeat: “Francois Hollande is the president of France and he must be respected,” reports the BBC.
With 67 percent of the vote counted, Hollande leads Sarkozy by a 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent margin, notes CNN. Three polling agencies have said that Hollande will win with anywhere from 51.8 percent to 53 percent of the vote, compared to Sarkozy’s 47 percent to 48.2 percent, writes the Associated Press.
Sunday, May 6 at 12:01 p.m.: French voters headed to the polls Sunday for a crucial run-off election that pits Socialist François Hollande against President Nicolas Sarkozy. The latest opinion polls showed a shrinking gap between the two candidates but still put Hollande four or five percentage points ahead of Sarkozy, notes the New York Times. Sarkozy insists the polls were misleading, predicting a higher-than-expected turnout. Early results show his predictions are at least partly true with preliminary figures suggesting voters were turning out in high numbers, reports the Associated Press.
Even if, as widely expected, Hollande does win, the final tally will be critical because a wide margin of victory will give him the authority he needs to push back against unpopular austerity measures, points out Reuters. A Hollande win would not only be significant for France’s Socialists, who would see their first victory since 1988, it would also mark a rare event in Europe, where the right has become a dominant political force, notes the Guardian.
As a key player in the euro zone’s debt crisis, the French election is being closely watched across the continent. Yet it’s hardly the only significant election taking place in the region Sunday. Most significantly, Greeks are also heading to the polls for parliamentary elections that will likely see the two mainstream parties lose key support due to unpopular austerity measures, notes the BBC. That in turn could hurt Greece’s chance of continuing to receive billions in rescue loans and the troubled country could potentially be forced to leave the euro if lawmakers are unable to pass fresh austerity measures, writes the AP.