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François Hollande has been elected president of France with 51.9 per cent of the votes, according to exit polls, the first Socialist to hold the post since François Mitterrand in the 1980s. Outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy becomes only the second directly elected president to fail to be reelected for a second mandate.
Turnout was 80 per cent, up slightly from the first round last month but lower than when Sarkozy was elected in 2007.
In a hard-fought campaign, Sarkozy managed to narrow a gap that saw Hollande with a greater lead than he eventually won.
Hollande has told journalists that he will "govern to the left" but that he will be the president of the whole French people.