April 23 - France prepares for a presidential run-off vote after a first round ballot that saw socialist Francois Hollande emerge the front-runner. Paul Chapman reports.
Francois Hollande adorns the front page of France's Liberation newspaper after the first round of a presidential poll that put him in the lead. The newspaper is one of the nation's biggest and seen as a bastion of French leftist values. Hollande scooped more than 28 per cent of Sunday's vote. The incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, is trailing on just over 27 per cent. It's the first time a sitting president has come second in the first round of the contest in France. But Sarkozy's supporters, like Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, insist there's still everything to fight for. SOUNDBITE: FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER ALAIN JUPPE SAYING (French): "It's not what we were expecting. We were expecting a catastrophe." The country's socialist leaders are celebrating Francois Hollande's initial success. SOUNDBITE: FORMER PRIME MINISTER LAURENT FABIUS SAYING (English): "My guess is that most people will favour Mr Hollande because they want a change in French politics. SOUNDBITE: DEPUTY SOCIALIST PARTY LEADER HARLEM DESIR SAYING (English): "Sarkozy is now absolutely isolated. There are no other candidates who call for supporting him in the second round. One of the big surprises of the day was the record 18 per cent first-round score for anti-immigration crusader Marine le Pen. Her supporters may well decide who becomes France's next president when Sarkozy and Hollande fight it out in the second round vote on May 6th. Paul Chapman, Reuters