As it happened: Presidential election in France

Key points

  • Francois Hollande has beaten Nicolas Sarkozy by three and a half points, with 99% of the vote counted.
  • Conceding his rival's victory, Mr Sarkozy wished him luck in a phone call.
  • France has not had a Socialist president for 17 years, since the late Francois Mitterrand.
  • The eurozone was a key issue: Mr Hollande insists on adding growth measures to the fiscal pact negotiated by Mr Sarkozy.
  • The far right won nearly a fifth of the vote in the first round and has its eyes on parliamentary elections next month.
  • All times in BST (GMT -1 hour; mainland French time +1 hour)

Live text

Reporting:

  • Patrick Jackson 

Last updated 7 May 2012

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Welcome to our live coverage of the presidential election in France. Final votes are being cast in the second and deciding round. Follow us for updates on the results, analysis from BBC correspondents and comment from readers in France and abroad.

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First results released on close of polls at 19:00 (20:00 French time) usually provide an accurate picture of the final outcome. Election officials base these results on a representative sample of votes cast by 17:00, when polling stations outside the big cities close.

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This image shows scrutineers putting ballots on a table prior to the counting of votes at a polling station in the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.

Scrutineers put ballots on a table prior to the counting of votes at a polling station in the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, 6 May

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Whoever wins may face a major challenge in the eurozone with exit polls in Greece suggesting that the mainstream pro-austerity parties have suffered big losses in the parliamentary election.

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If you prefer to watch your news or hear it, BBC World News and BBC News Channel are all broadcasting live from France as I write, with BBC World Service joining them shortly.

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Just heard that Nicolas Sarkozy has read out a statement to his cabinet ministers.

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Seeing footage of a huge, cheerful crowd outside Socialist headquarters in Paris.