François Hollande (Socialist Party) has won the first round of the French presidential election with around 28% of the vote. Incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy (Centre Right UMP party) came a close second with almost 27%.
This means that Hollande and Sarkozy will go through to the second round on May 6.
The result which provoked most discussion however, was Marine Le Pen’s score of around 19%, which took the French National Front party, founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, into third place.
Latest official results for all candidates:
François Hollande (Socialist Party) 28.10%
Nicolas Sarkozy (Centre Right UMP party) 26.98 %
Marine Le Pen (National Front) 18.76%
Jean Luc-Melenchon (Far-Left) 10.89%
François Bayrou (Centre) 9.19%
Eva Joly (Green) 2%
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Right, Eurosceptic) 1.8%
Phillippe Poutou (Far Left) 1.2%
Nathalie Arthaud (Far Left 0.7%)
Jacques Cheminade (Independent) 0.2%
Voter turn out is estimated to have been around 80% compared with 84% at the last elections.
Now that the pundits’ predictions are confirmed, much discussion centres on the nearly 19% polled by the French National Front. Whether or not her voters will support Hollande or Sarkozy in the final run off on May 6 will doubtless be crucial to the result. Especially as Sarkozy will simultaneously be wooing them and the centrists who voted for Bayrou.
Overall, commentators are pointing out that the far-left has done less well than expected and the far-right rather better than predicted.
Sarkozy gave a speech calling for his supporters to turn out en masse in the second round. He said that he understood the sufferings of the French people, and said that the final run off would be the French people’s choice of who would protect them over the next five years. He offered to hold three debates with his rival before the next vote; on the economy, French society and international affairs.
Hollande gave a speech referring to his rival as “the outgoing candidate” and saying that voters had punished him. He said that the protest vote to the right was a result of Sarkozy’s policies. He pledged growth, attacked the elite who surrounded Sarkozy and said that Jean-Luc Melenchon had been a very strong candidate.
Melenchon, urged his supporters to vote for Hollande, as did Eva Joly.
Marine Le Pen said that her party was the “only opposition” left in France but also ruled out joining any non-NF government. She said that the results “were only the beginning”.
One of the biggest reactions to the elections was played out over the web as a result of the French government enforcing a 1977 law which means that exit polls may not be published in France before the polling stations have closed.
This resulted in Swiss and Belgian television channels announcing exit poll results at 5pm BST although nothing was broadcast in France until 7pm BST. In the intervening 2 hours, bloggers and tweeters enjoyed themselves reporting “the price of Dutch pancakes compared with Hungarian ones” and using codenames like Rolex, goulash and platform heels to describe one candidate and Gouda, the flan, and the grey man to describe the other. Marine Le Pen appeared under the alias “Daddy’s Girl” and Melenchon became red hot pepper.