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Usual two parties pass first round in French elections

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In recent weeks there was a lot of talk about the left and the hard right making progress, but in the end it was the usual center-right and center-left who moved into the second (and final) round in France. The left did not fair as well as expected though the extreme right National Front gathered 20% of the vote, trailing the center-left and the center-right on Sunday. Some have suggested that Sarkozy will push to the right with the anti-immigration voters who strongly supported the extreme right though others believe his moves to the far right have done more harm than good. The Guardian:

Partial results from the beginning of the count showed Hollande – a former Socialist party leader, rural MP and self-styled Mr Normal – with a clear lead at more than 28%, compared with Sarkozy on about 26%. Hollande's is one of the left's best ever results and will raise momentum for next month's final run-off. The Socialist party is seeking to return to the presidency for the first time since François Mitterrand's re-election in 1988. But Sarkozy's total will be seen as a personal failure. It is the first time an outgoing president has failed to win a first-round vote in the past 50 years and makes it harder for Sarkozy to regain momentum. The final runoff vote between Hollande and Sarkozy now depends on a delicate balance of how France's total of rightwing and leftwing voters line up.
A key point to note from Sunday's vote is that this was the first time since 1958 that the incumbent did not receive the most votes in the first round. Even though Sarkozy was not far behind Hollande, many consider the first round a defeat for the current president.

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