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Nicolas Sarkozy, of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement party, defeated Socialist Ségolène Royal, who had hoped to become France‘s first woman president. Sarkozy won by a decisive 53.06% of the vote to Royal’s 46.9% in an election that saw a record turn-out of 84% .
Sarkozy, a free-market conservative, promises sweeping reforms to jump-start the nation’s stagnant economy, curb the welfare state and create much-needed jobs, particularly in poor immigrant communities where his tough crime and immigration policies have made him a reviled figure. Socialist Ségolène Royal dvocated social fareness for France. Royal pledged a vague program of gradual change underpinned by social justice.
French voters went to the polls en masse on April 22, paring a field of 12 candidates to two for the May 6 run-off.