Sarkozy, Royal headed for runoff

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Nicolas Sarkozy – a conservative candidate favored by many French Jews – and Segolene Royal will vie in a runoff for the French presidency. In Sunday’s first round of voting Sarkozy, the UMP Party candidate, garnered 31.1 percent of the vote. Royal, the Socialist candidate, received 25.8 percent. They will square off May 6 to see who succeeds Jacques Chirac, who has been president for 12 years. Sarkozy and Royal, who were well off the needed 50 percent of the ballots to avoid a runoff, were the top vote-getters in a field of 10. Behind the leaders were centrist candidate Francois Bayrou, with 18.5 percent, and extreme right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, at 10.5 percent.Voter turnout was higher than France has seen in 50 years – 84 percent of the country’s 44.5 million eligible voters cast ballots.Many French Jews are seen as backing Sarkozy, known as an American-style law-and-order politician, for his hard line against Muslim unrest in France, including anti-Semitic attacks. Royal drew fire from the community for meeting with Hezbollah lawmakers in Beirut during a Mideast tour in December.”I would like to say to all the French people who are afraid of the future that I will protect them against violence and delinquency,” Sarkozy told supporters in Paris.

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