Euronews/Paris. François Hollande has beaten Nicolas Sarkozy in the country’s presidential election.
An official exit poll, published at exactly 20:00 local time, credited Hollande with 52.5% of the vote, with Sarkozy on 47.5%.
Hollande will become France’s first socialist president since François Mitterand, who left office 17 years ago. Sarkozy meanwhile becomes the first president to be voted out after just one term since Valérie Giscard d’Estaing was beaten by Mitterand in 1981.
The outgoing president was quick to concede defeat. At his campaign headquarters in Paris barely 20 minutes after the exit poll was issued, he told his supporters that he had already telephoned Hollande to wish him luck.
“François Hollande is the President of France and he must be respected,” he said, “I bear the full responsibility for this defeat.”
Jubilant socialist supporters celebrated outside their party headquarters in Paris’ Bastille square.
© 2012 Euronews