Francois Hollande defeated French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a presidential runoff Sunday, signaling a shift to the left as the country and Europe fight to dig out of a weak economy, CNN informs.In a victory speech to supporters in Tulle, Hollande declared his win “a great date for our country, and a new start for Europe.” The Socialist challenger promised to govern for all of France.“Many people have been waiting for this moment for many long years. Others, younger, have never known such a time. … I am proud to be capable to bring about hope again,” he told the cheering crowd.“Tonight, there are not two Frances. … There is only one France, only one nation that is united with the same destiny,” Hollande said.The president-elect, who will be the nation’s first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995, suggested there was a sense of relief in many European countries because of his win. “Austerity can no longer be something that is inevitable,” he said. Later, Hollande went to Paris, where he addressed a large crowd at the Bastille. Supporters waved flags and shouted his name.With almost all of the votes counted, Hollande was leading with 51.6% to Sarkozy’s 48.4%, the nation’s Interior Ministry said. Voter turnout was reported at more than 80%.Exit polls said Hollande won 51.9% of the vote, France 2 television reported. Crowds roared at the center-left candidate’s campaign headquarters as the exit poll results came out Sunday evening. Celebratory car horns blared along the Champs-Elysees in Paris.U.S. President Barack Obama called Hollande shortly after results were in to congratulate the newly elected president and invite him to the White House.Sarkozy’s defeat marks the latest – and most significant – of at least half a dozen European leaders swept from office during the eurozone economic crisis, including the Greek and Italian prime ministers.