UK & World News
Hollande 'Beats Sarkozy' As Far-Right Surges
French incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy has made it to the second round of his country's presidential election - but he was beaten in the first round of votes by Socialist rival Francois Hollande.
Mr Sarkozy won 26.6% of the votes, according to polls, while Mr Hollande took 27.5% of the votes.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen was projected to have taken 19.9% of the vote, giving her third place in the first round of the election.
Media reports termed Ms Le Pen's surge in numbers "surprising". "Marine Le Pen's Front National has odious racist and anti-Semitic antecedents and yet one in five voters backed the party today," British freelance journalist Peter Allen, based in Paris, tweeted.
Her strong showing throws the presidential race wide open, potentially making her the kingmaker as her supporters could determine the runoff between Mr Sarkozy and Mr Hollande.
It also sends a definitive message that voters in France are disillusioned with the mainstream parties.
Mr Sarkozy and Mr Hollande will go face to face in second round voting in one of France's tightest presidential races since the system was adopted in 1958.
Opinion polls on Friday gave five candidates double-digit support: the current President Sarkozy, the Socialist Party's Hollande, the National Front's Le Pen, Jean-Luc Melenchon of the Left Front and Democratic Movement leader Francois Bayrou.
Also vying for votes were Europe Ecology's Eva Joly, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan who formed Arise the Republic, Nathalie Arthaud representing Workers' Struggle, Philippe Poutou for the New Anti-Capitalist Party and Jacques Cheminade representing Solidarity and Progress.
Despite the tight race, observers consider this to be a lacklustre campaign, which at times has descended into personal acrimony between the two frontrunners.
Mr Sarkozy's personal popularity was dented by his reputation as a "bling" president forcing the country to accept austerity.
While on the left, many were disenchanted with the low-key campaign fought by Mr Hollande, who wants to bring in a 75% income tax level for those earning over a million euros a year, create 60,000 new teachers' jobs and regulate the financial industry.
That means support has moved to the so-called "conviction" parties on the far right and far left.
The result is that the time between this election and the run-off on May 6 will be spent political horse-trading, when the two front-runners try to mop up the support of those knocked out of the race.
Polls suggest the Socialist leader would triumph in the run-off, which would create concern in Europe.
He disagrees with core elements of the fiscal compact designed to bring financial stability to the eurozone, which Mr Sarkozy helped create with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
what do you think?
Sarkozy is on his last FROGS legs.
In order to prevent extreme austerity measures ... the people are voting either ... extreme left wing communist or extreme right wing? ... Don't they have another choice? ... Don't they have a French Monster Raving Looney Party? ... Don't they have anything relatively ... safe? ... The people revolted against their rulers in ancient times due to their insistance upon extreme austerity measures? They've been replaced by the same thing? ...
After what has happen in France recently relating to shootings many French think voting far right is safe.
go on french nationalists. crash petro-dollar recycle run cars on hho like japan wants. crash globalist banking agenda. kick sarky into touch the best anglo saxon puppet ever. vote far right and crash euro and globalisation. get your debt written off.
If you look again at the three pictures heading this piece - only the blond in the middle is smiling confidently! Who said that blonds were dumb, eh? She knows where she is going and (if it's permissable to say it) she's lovin' it!
Yes. Just as I thought. French people are slowly waking up to the fact they are losing their jobs and their economy and the euro is slowly crashing. And they are turning to the far right. Just as Finlands people did with the true finns party. The vote in Greece will be very interesting as people there are desperate. Personally I love seeing merkels puppy dog squirm as he tries to win back those people in the second round to keep his job. I think the socialist will win and he might be worse than Sarkozy!
The best news is that Le Pen didn't make it to round two. She did better than her father but still not good enough. Aurevoir fascist.
If Hollande gets into power, France will be the next country requiring a bail out.