A Right Royal Defeat as Nicolas Sarkozy Elected; INTERNATIONAL

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Byline: By George Illingworth

French voters elected reform-minded Nicolas Sarkozy as their new president yesterday, giving him a comfortable winning margin, preliminary official results and projections from four polling agencies showed.

With more than half of the vote counted, Sarkozy was scoring just over 53 per cent to a little more than 46 per cent for Socialist Seg-olene Royal.

Polling agencies also had the conservative Sarkozy winning 53 per cent of the vote compared to 47 for Royal amid massive turnout of 85 per cent.

Sarkozy, in his victory speech as France's president-elect, said the US can "count on our friendship" but urged it to take the lead against climate change.

Speaking to hundreds of cheering supporters, the conservative also vowed to be "the president of all of the French" and warned the European Union must not be "the Trojan horse" for globalisation's ills.

To France's "American friends," he said: "They can count on our friendship."

"I want to tell them that France will always be by their side when they need," he said. "But I also want to tell them that friendship means accepting that friends can have different opinions."

"A great nation, like the US, has a duty not to block the battle against global warming but - on the contrary - to take the lead in this battle, because the fate of the whole of humanity is at stake."

He said the issue would be a priority for France.

Royal immediately conceded defeat. "I gave it all my efforts, and will continue," she told supporters. …