Socialist Party leader wins 2012 French Presidential Election with 51.9% of the vote
It’s finally over and France has swung to the left in saying au revoir to the colourful Nicolas Sarkozy and his supermodel singer wife and saying bonjour to the less colourful but more reliable François Hollande; ex-husband of Ségolène Royal, the lady who tried and failed to get elected president five years ago.
It says something about the lie of the land in French politics generally when it’s the conservative candidate (Sarkozy) who is seen as the maverick with revolutionary ideas, while it’s the left-wing incumbent who is seen as the one representing something of a return to more “traditional” French political values.
Just how much of these traditionally left-wing French political values will be brought into play remains to be seen. The fairly perilous state of the country’s finances would suggest that it will be a case of “left-wing lite”. Perhaps he’ll even take a leaf out of the book of Ireland’s Labour Party and continue to pursue a more Sarkozy-like political pragmatism, while shrugging his shoulders and saying “Sorry, but I’m constrained by the current financial situation.”
Time will tell. Meanwhile, here are some of the reactions so far…
Jean-Luc Mélenhon (communist candidate and Hollande supporter): “Sarkozy is finished – finally! Thus, the account is settled of this grave-digger is social benefits and public services of our republic. His defeat is a defeat of his project of extreme-right. It’s very good news for France and for Europe.”
Marine Le Pen (Front National candidate who declared a blank vote in the 2nd round) : “Nicolas Sarkozy participated in the victory of a François Hollande… The directors of the UMP party bear the responsibility of the failure of their organisation. Neither one nor the other (Hollande or Sarkozy) has the wit to put in place a government that will be able to tackle the crisis.”
Ségolène Royal (Socialist party candidate at last presidential and ex-wife of François Hollande): “It’s a very clear and precise victory, especially when you remember how long the campaign was and how the right was constantly trying to spread fear.”
Nicolas Sarkozy (outgoing president): ” I wish with all my heart that France will succeed in coming through the tests that are to come. We should be thinking only tonight of the grandeur of France. This is our role. I wish to thank all the French people who put their trust in me, to thank them for the honour that they gave me. I will never forget this honour… Together, we’ve had and unforgettable campaign. I bear full responsibility for this defeat. I’m the leader and when there is a defeat, it’s the Number 1 who must accept the consequences… I will never be able to give you back what you have given me.”
Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore: “Mr Hollande’s victory… is a very significant event for Europe. We have been saying that stability and growth go together, you can’t have one without the other, and I think that the election of Hollande will significantly accelerate that agenda.”