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France elects Francois Hollande as president

Hollande secured 51.7% of the vote, with the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy finishing on 47.3%.

Hollande wins france 2012 5 6Enlarge
Francois Hollande waves as he arrives on stage to give a victory speech after the results of the second round of the presidential election on May 6, 2012 in Tulle, southwestern France. Hollande was elected France's first Socialist president in nearly two decades today, dealing a humiliating defeat to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and shaking up European politics. (Philippe Desmazes /AFP/Getty Images)

PARIS, France - Socialist Francois Hollande has been elected president of France.

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 51.7% of votes.  The incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy got 47.2%.

Hundreds of Hollande's supporters gathered in his hometown of Tulle in central France to hear his victory speech, NineMSN confirmed.

There was also a large crowd outside the Socialist Party's headquarters in Paris, and celebrations took place 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. 

Hollande flew in to address crowds at the Place at around midnight.

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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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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/120506/france-elects-francois-hollande-president