Hollande tops first round poll for final round duel with Sarkozy

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Socialist Party candidate François Hollande and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy are the winners of the first round of the French presidential elections held on Sunday, according to initial exit poll figures released after the voting ended at 8p.m. They gave Hollande, who took the overall lead, with between 27% and 29%, and Sarkozy with between 25% and 27%. The pair now go through to the final play off on May 6th. Meanwhile, far-right leader Marine Le Pen came in third position, with between 18% and 20% of the vote, the highest score ever obtained by her Front National party. It was a comfortable lead over her closest rival, radical-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who drew between 10.1% and 11.5%.

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By Michael Streeter and Graham Tearse