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Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy picked up the women's vote, fared well among blue-collar workers and nosed into the political center on his way to winning France's presidential election, poll figures showed.
Sarkozy united a broad and unlikely spectrum of voters in his 53-47 percent victory over Socialist Segolene Royal in Sunday's vote, handing him a solid mandate for his detailed platform pledging tax cuts, freer markets, curbs on immigration and a tougher tack against crime.
An Ipsos exit poll showed Sarkozy won 52 percent of the women's vote over Royal, who had been aspiring to become France's first female president. He garnered support from 40 percent of voters who had backed centrist Francois Bayrou in the election's first round on April 22, to 38 percent for Royal - the rest abstained or cast blank ballots.
Sarkozy also collected 49 percent among lower-level employees and 46 percent of votes among blue-collar workers, Ipsos said. Official figures show he won the northern Nord region - France's one-time industrial heartland with strong traditional ties to the left - by 52 percent to 48 percent.
Most strikingly, perhaps, he tallied nearly 44 percent of the vote in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris, where a three-week wave of rioting, car burnings and clashes between youths and police erupted in late 2005 while he was interior minister. His tough talk, such as calling troublemakers in such areas "scum," infuriated many in those immigrant-heavy neighborhoods.
Sarkozy also siphoned off support from anti-immigration nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen, who won 10.4 percent of the vote in the first round, by wooing his far-right backers toward the political center and toward France's republican ideal.
The Ipsos poll of 3,609 adults was conducted by telephone on May 6. The agency did not provide a margin of error, but it would be about plus or minus 1.6 percent for a survey of that size.
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