Hollande Emerges as Frontrunner in French Presidential Election

Posted April 22nd, 2012 at 5:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Socialist Francois Hollande has emerged as the frontrunner in France's presidential election after beating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's first round.

First official results give Hollande 29 percent of the vote and the conservative Mr. Sarkozy 26 percent. Both will meet again in a runoff vote on May 6.

Eight other candidates finished far behind. But far-right anti-immigrant candidate Marie le Pen surprised poll-watchers by finishing in a strong third place with double digits.

Hollande is declaring himself the best candidate to become France's new president. He said he wants to unite what he calls a country divided by President Sarkozy's failed policies. He also says he wants to boost taxes on millionaires.

Mr. Sarkozy said he understands French voters are concerned in a time of crisis, including worries about the economy and crime. He challenged Hollande to three debates on social, economic and international issues before the May 6 runoff.