Sarkozy elected French president
Sun May 6, 2007 2:15 PM ET
By Crispian Balmer
PARIS (Reuters) - Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy won France's presidential election on Sunday, beating his Socialist rival Segolene Royal by a comfortable margin and extending the right's 12-year grip on power.
Within minutes of polls closing, Royal conceded defeat in a speech to party faithful in the heart of Paris.
"I hope that the next president of the republic fulfils his role in the service of all French people," she said.
Forecasts by four pollsters showed Sarkozy, 52, a hard-line former interior minister, won around 53 percent of the vote in the second-round ballot and will succeed fellow conservative Jacques Chirac, who was president for 12 years.
Turnout was predicted at about 85 percent.
Sarkozy's face flashed up on television screens after polling stations closed at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), signaling his victory and setting off jubilant scenes among supporters gathered in central Paris.
Across the city at Socialist headquarters there was gloom and sorrow after the party crashed to its third consecutive presidential election defeat. It now faces the prospect of tough internal reform to make itself more appealing to voters.
Although opinion polls regularly suggested voters preferred Royal, who was seeking to become France's first woman head of state, they saw the uncompromising Sarkozy as a more competent leader with a more convincing economic program.
Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, presented himself as the "candidate of work", promising to loosen the 35-hour work week by offering tax breaks on overtime and to trim fat from the public service, cut taxes and wage war on unemployment.
He is expected to take office on May 16 or 17, and will be the first French president to be born after World War Two.
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.
The president is elected for five years, is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, nominates the prime minister, has the right to dissolve the National Assembly and is responsible for foreign and defense policies. (link)
This is indeed good news. Not only for France, but for the West as well.
Reason to cheer