French President Nicolas Sarkozy conceded defeat to Socialist Francois Hollande in Sunday's presidential election runoff within half an hour of the last polling stations closing.
"I have just spoken to him on the telephone to wish him good luck," Sarkozy said, as polling institutes projected Hollande would win the election with between 51.8 to 52 percent of the vote, based on initial counts of ballots cast.
Sarkozy told his supporters that he took responsibility for his defeat, saying: "It's the number one who takes responsibility."
Polling institutes predicted Hollande would win between 51.8 and 52 percent of the vote versus Sarkozy's tally of between 48.0 and 48.2 percent.
Hollande, who had led conservative incumbent Sarkozy in polls for months, would become France's first socialist president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995.