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France election: Nicolas Sarkozy loses first round
From: BBC          Published On: August 22, 2012, 18:30 GMT
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France election: Nicolas Sarkozy loses first round

President Nicolas Sarkozy, lost first round

French Socialist Francois Hollande has won most votes in the first round of the country's presidential election, early estimates say.

He got about 28% of votes, according to projections based on partial results, against about 26% for centre-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

The two men will face each other in a second-round run-off on 6 May.

The election has been dominated by widespread anxiety over the French economy and the wider eurozone crisis.

The estimates - based on votes counted in polling stations that closed early at 18:00 (16:00 GMT) - were announced by French media when all voting ended at 20:00.

It is the first time a French president running for re-election has failed to win the first round since the start of the Fifth Republic in 1958.

Mr Sarkozy - who has been in power since 2007 - was facing a total of nine candidates in Sunday's first round.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen came third with about 20% of the vote, and leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melanchon fourth with more than 11%.

Centrist Francois Bayrou, who was hoping to repeat his high 2007 score of 18% garnered only about 9%.

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