April 23 - French President Sarkozy remains confident ahead of a second round of French elections -- after Socialist Francois Hollande wins the first round. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
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Victory for socialist candidate Francois Hollande in the first round of the country's presidential race.
Hollande won a narrow victory in the first round, with polls showing him ahead for the second round of voting in May.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) SOCIALIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE FRANCOIS HOLLANDE SAYING:
"I have all the reasons to be (satisfied) but at the same time I respect the French, the campaign is still under way, it has to carry on to the end and allow for a choice. But it's true that we've come out in the lead, we have a total number of votes gathered by all the left candidates and others will add to it. I'm confident but it's for the French to chose their destiny."
But French President Nicholas Sarkozy remains defiant.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT NICHOLAS SARKOZY WALKING SAYING:
"Yesterday the French gave a lesson in civics to everyone who was making predictions. Those predictions were swept aside. I hope that gets rid of your desire to spend so much money on surveys. Even at eight o'clock, with the exception of one of them, they were completely wrong. We are going into the second round with an extremely strong campaign."
National Front leader Marine Le Pen stole the show, winning almost 18 percent of the vote biggest tally a far-right candidate has ever managed.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH NATIONAL FRONT LEADER MARINE LE PEN SAYING:
"This beautiful electoral success demonstrates one thing - that here the love of country is not just a campaign slogan, but it is a reality. So I congratulate you and thank you for all the work that you have been doing and I ask you to send a message of my warmest congratulations to all your supporters, and now it's my turn to applaud you because you were kind enough to do the same when I arrived (CLAPS)."
The unpopular Sarkozy, the first sitting president to be forced into second place in the first round of a re-election bid, now faces a difficult balancing act to attract both the far-right and centrist voters he needs to stay in office.
Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.