Former president Nicolas Sarkozy has conceded defeat in the race to choose the conservative nominee for next year’s French presidential election.
Former prime ministers Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe both outpolled Mr Sarkozy in early returns and stand to advance to the November 27 run-off.
In a speech from his campaign headquarters in Paris on Sunday, Mr Sarkozy called on his supporters to vote for Mr Fillon in the second round.
With more than 3.2 million votes counted of an estimated total of more than five million, Mr Fillon had 44%, Mr Juppe 28.1% and Mr Sarkozy 21.1.
Fillon has enjoyed a strong boost in popularity in recent weeks thanks to his image of authority and seriousness compared to Sarkozy’s more brazen demeanour.