May 6, 2012 / 5:47 PM / 5 years ago

Factbox: French presidential run-offs usually tight

PARIS (Reuters) - Second-round votes in French presidential elections of the past half century have generally been closely fought, except in a couple of atypical polls pitting two rightist candidates against one another.

Opinion polls published last week showed Socialist challenger Francois Hollande winning an average of 53 percent of the votes against conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's election.

A narrower margin of victory could reduce Hollande's authority to pursue his program of balancing budget austerity with growth-boosting measures.

The tightest finish was in 1974, when conservative Valery Giscard d'Estaing beat Socialist Francois Mitterrand with 50.8 percent of the votes, a winning margin of just 1.6 percentage points, or about 400,000 votes. Turnout also peaked that year at 87.3 percent.

In 2002, conservative Jacques Chirac won a landslide 82.2 percent of the votes against far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, who had narrowly edged out Socialist Lionel Jospin in the first round of voting. Left-wing leaders at the time had asked their voters to support Chirac.

Another atypical right-right duel, pitting Gaullist Georges Pompidou against centre-right candidate Alain Poher in 1969, saw Pompidou win with 58.2 percent.

Among the six remaining traditional left-right final duels, the biggest victory was won by Charles de Gaulle in 1965, when he crushed Mitterrand by 55.2 percent to 44.8 percent for a 10.4 percent margin.

Below is a list of France's second-round election results since 1965. The turnout figure includes spoiled ballots. The presidential term was cut to five years from seven after 2002.

1965:

Charles de Gaulle: 55.2 pct

Francois Mitterrand: 44.8 pct

Winning margin: 10.4 pct

Turnout: 84.3 pct

1969:

Georges Pompidou: 58.2 pct

Alain Poher: 41.8 pct

Winning margin: 16.4 pct

Turnout: 68.9 pct

1974:

Valerie Giscard d'Estaing: 50.8 pct

Francois Mitterrand: 49.2 pct

Winning margin: 1.6 pct

Turnout: 87.3 pct

1981:

Francois Mitterrand: 51.8 pct

Valerie Giscard d'Estaing: 48.2 pct

Winning margin: 3.6 pct

Turnout: 85.9 pct

1988:

Francois Mitterrand: 54.0 pct

Jacques Chirac: 46.0 pct

Winning margin: 8.0 pct

Turnout: 84.1 pct

1995:

Jacques Chirac: 52.6 pct

Lionel Jospin: 47.4 pct

Winning margin: 5.2 pct

Turnout: 79.7 pct

2002:

Jacques Chirac: 82.2 pct

Jean-Marie Le Pen: 17.8 pct

Winning margin: 64.4 pct

Turnout: 79.7 pct

2007:

Nicolas Sarkozy: 53.1 pct

Segolene Royal: 46.9 pct

Winning margin: 6.2 pct

Turnout: 84.0 pct

Source: French Interior Ministry

Reporting by Thierry Leveque and Laurence Frost; Editing by Geert De Clercq and Alastair Macdonald

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