Sarkozy supporters cry victory in election

6th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 6, 2007 (AFP) - Supporters of Nicolas Sarkozy erupted in cheers Sunday, celebrating unconfirmed reports of a resounding victory for the rightwinger over Socialist Segolene Royal in France's presidential election.

PARIS, May 6, 2007 (AFP) - Supporters of Nicolas Sarkozy erupted in cheers Sunday, celebrating unconfirmed reports of a resounding victory for the rightwinger over Socialist Segolene Royal in France's presidential election.

After a day which saw a huge voter turnout at the climax of the hardfought campaign, supporters chanted "we won!" at a Paris concert hall where Sarkozy was to deliver a speech after the official results were given.

The mood was grim at the Socialist Party headquarters where about 300 Royal supporters waited.

French law forbids the publication of projections until the last polling stations close at 1800 GMT although the figures are distributed to media and party headquarters up to 90 minutes in advance.

Thousands of police were on standby in Paris and its high-immigrant suburbs in case a Sarkozy victory sparks trouble. But preparations went ahead for celebrations into the night.

Technicians erected a stage in the central Place de la Concorde at the spot where the Sarkozy camp planned its main events.
The French public flocked to take part in the choice for a new generation leadership to take over from veteran conservative Jacques Chirac who has been president since 1995.

By 1500 GMT, 75.11 percent of France's 44.5 million eligible voters had cast ballots -- the highest since the 1965 election won by Charles de Gaulle.

The strong participation underscored the exceptional interest generated by the left-right battle for the Elysee palace.

Sarkozy arrived at his Paris campaign headquarters in the late afternoon, smiling broadly and shaking hands with members of the crowd that gathered outside.

The former interior minister earlier cast his ballot in the chic Paris suburb of Neuilly sur Seine, where he was greeted with cheers of "Nicolas president." His wife Cecilia was not present however.

Royal, seeking to become France's first woman president, said the choice for her "had not been difficult" after voting in the town of Melle in her constituency in western France.

Sarkozy, 52, who has been leading in public opinion polls, says he wants to get France "back to work" and is proposing tax cuts and incentives to free up the labour market. He also supports tougher controls on immigration.

Royal, 53, is proposing to safeguard France's generous social protection, create jobs and carry out institutional reform to bring government closer to the people.

"Today we are making a choice as a society," said Guillaume Bellequic, 28, a computer expert who emphasized the radical differences between the two candidates after he voted in the western city of Nantes.

"There is change in the air," said Gaelle Bernard, 30, a psychologist. "And I am mostly hopeful."

The election marks a shift to a new generation of leaders who are promising to tackle the huge national debt, high unemployment and simmering tensions in the suburbs.

Maria Dallais, a 52-year-old domestic worker in the suburb of Suresnes, west of Paris, said she voted for Sarkozy "because we need radical change. People need to go back to work."

Royal, who has described Sarkozy as a "dangerous" leader who would divide rather than unite the French people, warned Friday that a Sarkozy victory could ignite new violence in the high-immigrant suburbs hit by riots in 2005.

The former interior minister responded by labelling Royal's attacks "outrageous" and prompted by desperation.

Sarkozy's tough approach to law and order and pledges to purge the suburbs of "rabble" has turned him into an enemy of poor neighborhoods.

Some 3,000 extra anti-riot police and military gendarmes were sent to Paris and nearby suburbs to respond to any flareup, a police source said. Main railway stations in Paris were also being watched to prevent gangs coming into the city to cause trouble, the source said.

In Argenteuil, one of the suburbs hit by the 2005 unrest, a steady stream of voters calmly turned out to render their verdict at the end of the hard fought campaign.

The first round on April 22 was marked by a near-record turnout of 84 percent. Sarkozy and Royal advanced from a list of 12 candidates.

The new president is expected to take office around May 17, and launch into the campaign for legislative elections to be held in June to fill all 577 seats in the National Assembly.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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