Sarkozy voted out, Hollande is new France president

Toronto News.Net Monday 7th May, 2012

PARIS - In a vote marked by widespread anger over austerity measures, high unemployment and an economy in slowdown, Francois Hollande was elected France's first Socialist president in nearly two decades, defeating Nicolas Sarkozy.

Hollande, who was widely predicted to win Sunday's run-off vote, won with 52 per cent of the ballots cast.

Sarkozy, who was elected president in 2007, becomes the first French president in three decades not to be re-elected. He is also the latest political leader to fall victim to the European economic crisis in the past four years, following in the steps of countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Britain.

In a farewell speech to supporters, a grim-looking Sarkozy wished Hollande well and said he had done as much as he could to protect France from the economic crisis.

Thousands of supporters gathered around the Socialist Party headquarters in Paris to cheer Hollande's victory.

Hollande, who takes over May 15, in a speech at his political home base of Tulles in southwestern France, said he would push ahead with his pledge to refocus EU fiscal efforts from austerity to "growth".

Hollande inherits a record debt of over $2 trillion and a jobless rate of around 10%.

Within days of his taking over, Hollande has a whole lot of international engagements the G-8 meeting at Camp David, Maryland, and the NATO Summit in Chicago in around two weeks as well as a G-20 meeting scheduled for June in Mexico City.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated the president-elect on phone and invited him to Berlin to hold talks soon.

Her spokesperson said earlier Monday that it was "not possible" to renegotiate the European Union fiscal pact which demands that EU governments stay within strict debt limits.

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