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Last Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007, 01:53 GMT 02:53 UK
Jubilant Sarkozy supporters celebrate
By Henri Astier
BBC News, Paris

Crowd at Place de la Concorde
Sarkozy's supporters were not disappointed
At the stroke of eight o'clock the giant screen on Paris's Place de la Concorde beamed the face of Nicolas Sarkozy, and a deafening roar arose from the crowd.

Thousands of supporters cheered as confirmation came that the centre-right leader had won the French presidency by a comfortable margin.

Not that the news came as a surprise.

Despite a ban on the publication of late poll results in France, many people had found near-perfect estimates posted on foreign websites.

"The Belgian media had the latest data," said Henri Vivier, 44, a legal expert. "News travels at the speed of the light nowadays."

Back to work?

Victory may have been expected, but for Sarkozy fans it was no less sweet.

The Vellards
We are happy because Sarkozy will let people keep their hard-earned money
Martine Vellard

"I am proud to be French with him as president. He is a man of action, he doesn't give up," says Laurent Scipio, 55.

Some found creative ways to show their enthusiasm. Pierre Emmanuel Baudouin, 32, had put on a kilt.

"I'm here to celebrate the Auld Alliance and the common aspiration of France and Scotland to liberty," he said.

"The Scots voted to be free last week. Today the French are doing the same, as Mr Sarkozy stands for freedom."

Martine Vellard, 52, who runs a small carpentry company, stood atop a small vehicle bedecked with balloons and tricolour flags.

" We are happy because Sarkozy will let people keep their hard-earned money," she said. "He will discourage people from living off benefits."

Revolutionary hat

Mr Sarkozy's campaign motto, "Work more to earn more", resonated with many younger voters too.

Breece Suber
Mr Suber wants France to become more like the US

"This election is going to mean the end of idleness and the beginning of growth," says Breece Suber, 20, who was wearing a 1789-style revolutionary hat.

Mr Suber - who has dual US and French citizenship - says he wants "France to become more like the US, where growth is strong because people work".

Thibault Lacaste, a 25-year-old musician, praised Mr Sarkozy for promoting meritocracy.

Meanwhile Hamed Berete, a 38-ear-old lorry driver with roots in West Africa, was brandishing a tricolour.

Mr Berete said he approved of all of Mr Sarkozy's policies, including curbs on immigration:

"France should have a right to decide who comes in," he said. "Those who want to work are welcome but those who don't want to work are not."

Socialist gloom

The crowd swelled to more than 10,000 as concerts began. A band played songs by Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind, and Fire and other funky hits.

Pierre Emmanuel Baudouin
Pierre Emmanuel Baudouin said Sarkozy 'stands for freedom'

Various celebrities came on stage but Mr Sarkozy's most famous fan, pop singer Johnny Halliday, never showed up - to the disappointment of some.

The president-elect, however, did make an appearance on the Place de la Concorde.

He gave a speech that reached out to supporters of defeated Socialist candidate Segolene Royal.

But this did little to lift the spirits of the Socialists within earshot - those who had gathered at the party headquarters across the river Seine .

"We are shattered," sighed one of them.

"Sarkozy won because he manipulated the media," said another despondent Royal activist.

"He is just like [former Italian PM silvio] Berlusconi. We have a fascist in power!"

Swing of the pendulum

Some, however, argued that Ms Royale had mostly herself to blame for her defeat.

Swing vote - does the pendulum hold the key to the future?"

Doriana, 22, said: "Sarkozy ran a better campaign. Segolene did not have a positive message. She only rallied those who were against Sarkozy."

Julien Decadi, a 23-year-old student, thought the party had not chosen the right candidate.

He says Mrs Royal's rival Dominique Strauss-Kahn - a moderniser and long-time critic of the old left - "would have had a better chance".

Others blame Ms Royal for exactly the opposite reason.

"She should not have courted the centre," said Kevin Chichepatiche, 19, who voted for the anticapitalist leader Jose Bove in the first round. "She lost credibility with the left."

Astrid Calvet, 50, found solace in an interesting way. A self-proclaimed medium, she produced a pendulum to find out how Mr Sarkozy would fare.

When the pendulum swings wildly, she said: "Something terrible will happen to him and Segolene will be back."

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