Results From The Most Important Nation

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070506/wl_nm/france_election_dc

Excuse the time lapse, shouldn't have happened with this most important nation, this is the 3rd or 4th edition:

Sarkozy elected France's president

By Crispian Balmer 33 minutes ago

Conservative leader Nicolas Sarkozy triumphed in France's presidential election on Sunday, beating his Socialist rival Segolene Royal by a comprehensive margin and extending the right's 12-year grip on power.

Within an hour of polls closing, a calm, restrained Sarkozy pledged to represent the entire nation and heal the divisions of a bitter election campaign, praising his defeated opponent.

He also reached out to both the United States, which has had frosty relations with France since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and to European Union partners, saying he would make the fight against global warming a priority.

"To all those French who did not vote for me, I want to say that beyond political battles, beyond differences of opinion, for me there is only one France," he told cheering supporters.

With almost two thirds of ballots counted, Sarkozy had won 53.4 percent of the vote against 46.6 percent for Royal. Turnout was some 85 percent -- the highest since 1981.

Royal, her traditional smile slightly faded, immediately conceded defeat. "Universal suffrage has spoken. I wish the next president of the Republic the best in accomplishing his mission in the service of all the French people," she said.

Although opinion polls regularly suggested voters preferred Royal, who was seeking to become France's first woman head of state, they saw the uncompromising Sarkozy as a more competent leader with a more convincing economic program.

Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, presented himself as the "candidate of work," promising to loosen the 35-hour work week by offering tax breaks on overtime and to trim fat from the public service, cut taxes and wage war on unemployment.

Supporters poured into the huge Place de la Concorde in the center of Paris for a rock concert and celebration party.

TAKING OFFICE

Sarkozy is expected to take power on May 16 or 17, becoming the first French president to be born after World War Two and replacing Jacques Chirac, 74, who is retiring after two terms.

He will then name a new government and launch into campaigning for June's parliamentary election, where he will seek a clear majority to implement his reforms. Former Labor Minister Francois Fillon is expected to be prime minister.

The president is elected for five years, is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, nominates the prime minister, has the right to dissolve the National Assembly and is responsible for foreign and defense policies.

Royal started the year as favorite, but a string of gaffes raised persistent doubts over her competency.

Ideological divisions in her own camp also meant she could never enjoy unified party support and Socialist heavyweights said on Sunday the left needed to undergo deep reform after failing in three attempts to win the presidency.

"We need to renew ourselves. It is the condition for regaining hope and I am available for that," said Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist former finance minister, presenting himself as a future leader for the battered party.

The Socialists portrayed Sarkozy as a danger for France, saying he was authoritarian and likely to exacerbate tensions in the poor, multi-racial suburbs that ring many French cities.

They also accused him of fuelling 2005 suburb riots by promising to rid neighborhoods of what he said were the "scum" responsible for the troubles. Thousands of extra police have been drafted in to patrol sensitive suburbs on Sunday.

But by backing Sarkozy, voters showed they wanted a strong leader to resolve France's many problems, including high unemployment of at least 8.3 percent, falling living standards, job insecurity and declining industrial might.

He has promised a clean break with the policies of Chirac, once his political mentor, and says he will curb the powers of the unions and toughen sentencing for criminals.

On foreign policy, Sarkozy is more pro-American than Chirac, but said on Sunday Washington had to respect Paris.

"I want to tell (the U.S.) that friendship is accepting that one's friends can act differently, and that a great nation like the United States has the duty to not obstruct the fight against global warming but on the contrary to take the lead," he said.

He has said one of his first acts as president will be to visit Berlin and then Brussels to lay out plans for a mini treaty to replace the European Union constitution that French voters rejected in a 2005 referendum.
 

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