Sarkozy concedes defeat to Hollande

PARIS, France - French President Nicolas Sarkozy conceded defeat to socialist Francois Hollande minutes after the voting polls closed.

Sarkozy said he called Hollande to wish him "good luck" as the country's new leader, reported AP.

"I bear responsibility ... for the defeat," Sarkozy said. "I committed myself totally, fully, but I didn't succeed in convincing a majority of French. ... I didn't succeed in making the values we share win."

The result was announced at 8 pm local time on French television, including France 2 and TF1.  According to estimates from the official TNS Sofres polling agency, Hollande secured 51.9% of votes.  The incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy got 48,10%.

Hundreds of Hollande's supporters have gathered in his hometown of Tulle in central France, where he is expected to deliver his victory speech later tonight, NineMSN confirms.   There is also a large crowd outside the Socialist Party's headquarters in Paris, and celebrations were underway at the Place de la Bastille in Paris, the same spot where the last Socialist to win a presidential election, François Mitterrand, celebrated his victory back in 1981, France 24 reports.

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The Financial Times says the Socialist Party's deputy leader Harlem Désir has responded to the victory by saying: "Tonight, François Hollande has gained the overwhelming confidence of the French people. (It is) above all a victory for hope and unity over fear and divisiveness. Tonight France has shown its best face to the world, one of openness, strength and confidence in its future.”

Sarkozy has now become the first French president to lose out on a second term since Valery Giscard d'Estaing lost to Socialist Francois Mitterrand in 1981, AFP explains.

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