Francois Hollande beats Nicolas Sarkozy in first round

Posted Apr 22, 2012 by Layne Weiss
The Telegraph is reporting that French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his Socialist opponent, Francois Hollande, have qualified for the second round of the French Presidential election.
Francois Hollande
Francois Hollande
Matthieu Riegler
Mr Hollande took 28-29% of the vote, and Mr Sarkozy took 25-26% according to unofficial estimates, The Telegraph reports.
Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen came in 3rd with 18-20% of the vote while leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon came in 4th with 11%, and centrist candidate Francois Bayrou finished 5th with less than 10%, Reuters reports.
Polling began Saturday in France's overseas territories, and kicked off Sunday in mainland France at 8 am. All voting booths will close at 8 pm, The Telegraph reports.
Nicolas Sarkozy says he is the safest, most reliant candidate to lead France and the EuroZone in "turbulent" times, but according to The Seattle PI, Hollande's lead reflects widespeard disappoint with Sarkozy's first term. There is fear that Sarkozy favors helping the rich in a time when he must be focused on France's very bleak job market.
A televised debate will air May 2, just 4 days before the May 6 runoff, The Telegraph reports.
Hollande has promised that if he wins on May 6, he will lead a push for bigger focus on growth in the Eurozone, Reuters reports.
According to The Telegraph, Mr Hollande claims that Sarkozy's governing style has "divided the French," widening the gap between rich and poor . Hollande believes that Sarkozy's "unfair economic reforms" will only exacerbate the problems France is facing.
Hollande wants higher taxes on the wealthy, and has promised spending cuts that are less drastic than what Sarkozy has proposed, Reuters reports.
If elected, Hollande would become only France's second left-wing leader since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958, Reuters reports. The first was Francois Mitterand who beat incumbent Valery d'Estaing in 1981. He was president until 1995.
Voting Sunday had a 70.6% turnout.