By Vittorio Hernandez

Paris, France

The French Socialist Party elected Francois Hollande as their candidate for the 2012 presidential election. He is expected to battle incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Hollande won in the primary run-off over rival Martine Aubry, who conceded her loss to Hollande. He got 56 percent of the party votes over Aubry's 44 percent.

Sarkozy has not formally announced that he will seek reelection. The election is more than six months away and Sarkozy has his hands full dealing with the eurozone crisis, France's budget deficit and the strength of French and European banks.

This is the first time French voters participated in a primary race patterned after the U.S. About 2.7 million voters took part in the run-off.

Reports said that Sarkozy will not announce his reelection bid until early next year. The first round of the presidential election is slated on April 22, while the final round is on May 6. Opinion polls give Hollande a higher rating that Sarkozy.

The last a Socialist to lead France was Francois Mitterand, who left office 16 years ago.

Hollande was born in Rouen. He is the son of a doctor and social worker. However, one of his perceived shortcomings is that he lacks experience in government. He has never been a government minister or run a business.

The Socialist Party was counting on former International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn to be its candidate until he became involved in a sexual assault case in New York.

World - Hollande to Challenge Sarkozy in 2012 French Presidential Election | Global Viewpoint