It was a Nicolas Sarkozy wreathed in smiles who greeted thousands of his jubilant supporters in Paris’ Place de la Concorde.
The crowds had begun to gather earlier in the day, when exit polls suggested the conservative candidate in France’s presidential election had won 53 percent of the vote, compared to 47 percent for socialist Segolene Royal.
The President-elect was joined on stage by his wife, children and a coterie of advisors.
Emotion and noise from the crowd drowned out Sarkozy’s first words, but he quickly regained his composure: “I want to reassure all those who feel they are the victims of injustice, all those who feel they are not respected, all those who put their faith in other politicians, I want to say to you all that I will be the President who fights injustice, that everyone will have opportunities, but in my vision of the Republic you cannot have rights without obligations.”
And to finish, a rousing rendition of the Marseillaise, France’s national anthem. Sarkozy is expected to take office on May 16th or 17th, and will be the first French president to be born after the Second World War.
He will then name a new government and immediately launch into campaigning for June’s parliamentary election, where he will seek a clear majority to implement his reform plans.