Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal won the first round of voting today to succeed French president Jacques Chirac, CNN reports. Based on vote counts from hundreds of polling stations, Sarkozy drew 30.46% of the votes, and Royal 24.41%. They will face each other in a runoff election May 6.
After a ferocious campaign debate over how to rescue France from economic stagnation and a national identity crisis, voter turnout was over 80%. Sarkozy offered a right-wing, free-market solution, while Royal promised to protect the country's social model. (Read more Segolene Royal stories.)