This contribution is compiled from listening to French radio
and TV, watching reporting on the election and post-election
commentary and from articles appearing in the newspapers, LeMonde (the
world) equivalent in France to the NY Times, and Figaro, a
conservative French newspaper, as well as my knowledge of French
politics and culture. I will divide my comments into I. Introduction,
II, the structure of the French political system; III voting results;
IV. President Holland's inauguration; V. The likely results in France
I. Intrododuction: Dating from the first French republic after the
French revolution against King Louis VXI in 1789, French went through
a series of political struggles, two World Wars, numerous changes of
unstable governments from Socialist to Vichy, a neo-fascist during
WWII, the strong man Charles DeGaul after WWII, with a stable
government of right-wing Sarcozy in 2007. Sarkozy pursued a policy
favoring the rich and using deflation and austerity to confront the
financial crisis facing Europe. Nicholas Sarkozy won by a landslide
against ... in 2002. But his combative disagreeable character
resulted in personal animosity from many people. Neverteless, a
Socialist candidate had not won the presidency in 17 years.
Polls are not allowed to release vote results until voting is ended at
8pm. But results were leaked to twtter with code names for the
candidates-- Fetter for
Sarkozy and nain for Holland.
unless one candidate receive more than 50% of the vote in the first
round which has never happened. In the first round, the Socialist
François Holland received 1,272,705 (28.63%); Sarcozy ?:
Second Round: Holland: 1,800,668 (51.67%)
Sarcozy: 9,783,629 (48.36%).
Abstentions: first round: 20.52%
The right-wing is led by Marie LePen, a talented woman who
leads the National Front, whose main platform is anti-immigrant and other
appeals to workers.There are 500,000 Muslims in France. LePen appeals
principally to workers on the principal that immigrants take their jobs.Sarkozy picked this theme in order to gather riight-wing voters from LePen but workers preferred the real thing --LePen, so is strategy didn't work.
Holland is a moderate but by American standards, a"radical." His campaign against Sarcozy, the then president, was based on a policy of growth as against Sarcozy's policy of "sacrifice" which resulted in high rates of unemployment or the poor and middle-class. Other
policies supported the supper-rich.
One of the reasons given by French commentators for Holland's win is that he, as a "cool" guy, not as fiery as Sarko, was underestimated by Sarcozy. In a debate between the two, Holland was able to use this difference in their personality to his advantage. While Sarkozy came off as a scappy fighter, Holland was able to end their debate with a calm five minutes of how he, as President, would change French government policies to improve life for all the French as well as improve world conditions.
Cyril Robinson, professor emeritus, Southern Illinois