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France elections 2012: Nicolas Sarkozy declared most unpopular president in history

•, By Henry Samuel
 The capital's Place de la Concorde was transformed into a sea of red, white and blue, as Mr Sarkozy implored France's "silent majority" to confound forecasts that he will be trounced by Socialist rival François Hollande in the presidential run-off on May 6.

"They said you wouldn't come," Mr Sarkozy told a crowd his camp put at 150,000 but which appeared to be less than half that size.

"Silent France has responded through your presence," he said, in a speech aimed at Right-wing traditionalists that attacked multiculturalism, teaching unions, affirmative action and Europe's open borders while defending families and hard work.

Five miles to the East, the ambience was markedly festive as Mr Hollande told his troops before the Château de Vincennes that the first Socialist presidential victory in 24 years was now within their grasp.

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