PARIS – François Hollande won the French presidential election on Sunday evening
by beating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the second and final round of voting,
becoming the second Socialist Party head of state elected under the Fifth
Media outlets published official results at 8 p.m.: 51.9
percent for Hollande and 48.1% for Sarkozy.
Many French citizens knew the
results earlier in the day. At 6:30 p.m., accurate information about the final
score – much of it coming from foreign media, especially in Belgium – started
circulating by SMS messages, emails and phone conversations.
journalists shared the timely information with election officials as well as
with supporters and opponents of the two candidates.
Thousands of French
citizens waited for the results at Hollande headquarters, on Rue de Solferino
near the National Assembly. Journalists from all over the world were asked to
“circulate” in the street, and not to stake out a good spot near the
Others began gathering early in the evening at the Place de
la Bastille, where socialists celebrated the victory of the only socialist
president so far – François Mitterrand – in 1981.
On the other side, at
the Mutualité conference center, UMP supporters were nervous throughout the
latter part of the day, after hearing the rumors of their defeat.
the results were published, a party planned by UMP at the Place de la Concorde
was suddenly canceled, according to a source at France Inter radio who announced
to The Jerusalem Post, “Hollande took it!” Sarkozy retired to his office to work
on his speech, while Hollande – who voted and spent all day in the southern town
of Tulle – prepared to come back to Paris, in the hope of speaking to the
“people of the Left” in the Place de la Bastille.
Ségolène Royal, from
Hollande’s party (she lost the 2007 presidential race to Sarkozy), said after
the results were announced: “I have a feeling of very deep
François Cope, head of Sarkozy’s UMP, called for “a general
mobilization at the coming legislative elections, in order to save France in
decisive issues such as the nuclear one and the question of the vote for
Henri Guaino, Sarkozy’s special adviser, prepared two
speeches for his boss, one in case of victory, and one in case of
However, Sarkozy spoke without reading from his prepared
“François Hollande is the president of France and must be
respected as that. I have already suffered lack of respect to the institution I
represent. Let’s not give a bad example. I have called François Hollande and
wished him good luck,” he said.
“My wish is to retire from political
life... my engagements will be from now on different,” Sarkozy concluded as his
supporters shouted “Nicolas! Nicolas!” “Let’s be a France which considers the
other as a rival and not an enemy,” the outgoing president said.