Socialist candidate François Hollande defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency in a vote that could reposition how the country responds to the eurozone crisis.
François Hollande, a Socialist who ran on being mild, centrist, and “normal” – and who a year ago wasn’t a contender – won the presidency of France today, defeating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in an election that looks to rebalance France's position in Europe.
Mr. Hollande said tonight in his victory speech that the austerity-only policy that has been dictated by Germany as the prescription for a spiraling euro debt crisis is "not inevitable." Berlin will be Hollande's first port of call, possibly as soon as this week.
French voters pushed out Mr. Sarkozy, the dominant figure in politics and media here since his election in 2007; French voted for change with a turnout of 80 percent, but in a skeptical mood about the future. Sarkozy admitted defeat after exit polling at 8 pm showed Hollande winning 51.9 percent to his 48.1.
“The French have chosen change and elected me,” said Hollande before a cheering crowd at 9:30 in which he wanted to reopen the idea of a "French dream."
“There are not two Frances … pitted against each other,” he said, adding. “I want to give hope back to the French people … dignity, pride.” France, he said, should judge his presidency on two issues: young people and justice.
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