Socialist Hollande Wins French Presidency

Posted May 6th, 2012 at 9:05 pm (UTC-5)
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France will have a new leader after Socialist challenger Francois Hollande beat conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential election.

With all but a handful of ballots counted in Sunday's runoff, Mr. Hollande won 52 percent of the vote to Mr. Sarkozy's 48 percent.

Thousands of Hollande supporters met and cheered him outside Paris' Palace de la Bastille Sunday. Mr. Hollande, who opposes many of the tough economic austerity measures in France, told the crowd that they are more than people who want change. He called them a a movement rising across Europe.

French voters were apparently angry with high unemployment and were no longer attracted by Mr. Sarkozy's brash political style. The outgoing president said he takes responsibility for the loss.

Mr. Hollande will be the first left-wing French leader in almost 20 years.

He is regarded as a mild-mannered career politician. He has promised to move quickly to implement a traditional socialist tax-and-spend program with higher taxes on the rich to help finance increased state spending.

He also is expected to try to renegotiate European Union-imposed austerity measures, by meeting first with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The White House says President Barack Obama telephoned his congratulations to Mr. Hollande and invited him to the White House before he comes to the United States for the G-8 and NATO summits later this month.