French voters elected Socialist leader Francois Mitterrand as the new president of France, special correspondent Edward Girardet reports. According to Honeywell-Bull computer estimates at the close of the polls at 8 p.m. French time, Mitterrand had received 51.7 percent of the vote against President Balery Giscard d'Estaing's 48.3 percent. The Socialist victory was a larger margin than political analysts and polls had initially predicted.
Although these results may vary slightly in the final outcome with the arrival of ballots from France's overseas territories as well as expatriates living in foreign countries such as the United States, the computer estimates are considered correct. A message from the presidential palace to Mr. Mitterrand congratulated him on his victory.
Almost frenzied cheering and applause broke forth outside the Socialist Party headquarters here when the result was announced. The Socialist Party first secretary, Lionel Jostin, said, "This a great day of joy for France. This is a new chance for our country."