Socialist party candidate Francois Hollande won the French presidential runoff election Sunday evening, defeating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in a close, contentious campaign.
Hollande received 52 percent of the vote to the 48 percent garnered by the conservative Sarkozy, who conceded to his opponent an hour after projected results were in.
The outcome makes Hollande the first candidate from the country’s Socialist Party to become president in France since 1988. It also makes Sarkozy the first president to not get re-elected to a second term in France since Valery Giscard d’Estaing in 1981.
Sarkozy, who was rumored by local channel France 24 as leaving politics altogether after the result, told his audience that he would not spearhead his conservative party into June’s parliamentary elections.
“Stay together, we must win the battle of the legislatives,” he said while reading a draft of his concession speech to senior party officials. “I will not lead that campaign.”
An estimated 46 million voters in France participated at the polls, with a staggering 80 percent turnout of eligible voters.