James Forsyth

Hollande edges Sarko in French first round

Hollande edges Sarko in French first round
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The run-off in the French presidential election will be between the candidates of the two main parties, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande. In a boost to the Socialist’s chances, Hollande topped the poll — but he was only a point and a half ahead of the sitting president. But, in some ways, the story of the night will be the best ever result for the Front Nationale, in terms of share of the vote. Marine Le Pen appears to have scored 20 percent, 3 percent more than her father

Jean-Marie Le Pen did when he came second in the first round in 2002. The result is another sign of the crisis of politics aross Europe at the moment. Jean Luc Mélenchon failed to live up to expectations, coming fourth and according to the exit poll scoring only 13 percent. François Bayrou, the — in French terms — centrist candidate is coming in at 10.5 percent.

This result suggests that the final round will be tight. Hollande can expect to pick up the vast majority of the Mélenchon vote. But whether the other candidate supporters go in the second round is far less predictable. The coming TV debate between Sarkozy and Hollande could turn out to be key.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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