Nicolas Sarkozy ran a close second to the Socialist Party challenger Francois Hollande. There will be a run-off, because there were ten parties represented in the first round, preventing any of the candidates from getting anywhere close to a majority.
What is going on?
Sources inside France have told me that the real problem is that Sarkozy is not living up to the cultural norms expected of a Frenchman. It is rumored that Sarkozy does not have a mistress, but has remained faithful to his (admittedly hot) wife, Carla Bruno Sarkozy, since they were married in 2008. That occurred after Sarkozy divorced his previous wife Cecelia shortly after being elected to presidency.
While it is not unheard of for a Frenchman to go years without so much as an extramarital affair, it is somewhat uncharacteristic of the French. Sarkozy's spokesmen have privately sought to excuse his unFrenchmanlike behavior by pointing out that Sarkozy has been quite busy and that Carla is a former singer, model, and actress and is extraordinarily sexy.
Social commentator Louis LeBeau is having none of it. "If you want to have an extended exclusive relationship with a woman--don't marry her. You have a reputation to maintain, after all."
The challenger, Francois Hollande, and his girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiler, have refused publicly to comment on Sarkozy's alleged breach of French etiquette, preferring to focus their campaign on the political differences between the candidates--whatever the hell they are.