New President of France: Francios Hollande

May 7, 2012 French Presidential Election 2012

Winds of Change : Francios Hollande is the New President of France

Nicolas Sarkozy concedes defeat to Socialist party candidate, who has become first left wing President in almost 20 years.

by Angelique Chrisafis in Paris, Sunday 6 May 2012 19.31 BST

François Hollande has won power in France, turning the tide on a rightwards and xenophobic lurch in European politics and vowing to transform Europe’s handling of the economic crisis by fighting back against German-led austerity measures.

The 57-year-old rural MP and self-styled Mr Normal, a moderate social democrat from the centre of the Socialist party, is France’s first leftwing President in almost 20 years. Projections from early counts, released by French TV, put his score at 51.9%.

His emphatic victory is a boost to the left in a continent that has gradually swung rightwards since the economic crisis broke four years ago. Nicolas Sarkozy, defeated after one term in office, became the 11th European leader to lose power since the economic crisis in 2008. He conceded defeat at a gathering of his party activists at the Mutualité in central Paris, urging them from the stage to stop booing Hollande. “I carry all the responsibility for this defeat,” he said.

He had spoken to Hollande to congratulate him. “From the bottom of my heart I want France to succeed with the challenges it faces. It is something much greater than us; France. This evening we must think exclusively of France.”

He said that after 35 years in politics and 10 years at the top of government, he would now become a simple “Frenchman among the French”. The defeat of the most unpopular French President ever to run for re-election was not simply the result of the global financial crisis or Eurozone debt turmoil.

It was also down to the intense public dislike of the man viewed by many as the “President of the Rich” who had swept to victory in 2007 with a huge mandate to change France. The majority of French people felt he had failed to deliver on his promises, and he was criticised for his ostentatious display of wealth, favouring the rich and leaving behind over 2.8 million unemployed. Political analysts said anti-Sarkozy sentiment had become a cultural phenomenon in France.

Hollande is the first Socialist President to win a French election since François Mitterrand’s re-election in 1988. Hours before the official announcement, hordes of cheering supporters began gathering at Paris’s Place de la Bastille, a flashpoint of the 1789 French Revolution, where the Left had celebrated Mitterrand’s first historic victory in 1981. The right has held the French Presidency since Jacques Chirac’s victory in 1995.

Hollande’s first move as President will be to push Germany to renegotiate Europe’s budget discipline pact to include a clause on growth. He has vowed to push growth measures to the centre of Brussels’ handling of the Eurozone crisis.

Ségolène Royal (left), Hollande’s former partner who was defeated by Sarkozy in 2007, said France had voted for change and a new approach to European economic policy. Manuel Valls, tipped for a cabinet post, said Hollande now had to reconcile a France that had been divided during Sarkozy’s term.

Hollande’s victory comes after a brutal and vitriolic campaign marked by the high score of the far right Front National’s Marine Le Pen, who came third in the first round with 17.9% and 6.4m votes.

Sarkozy, who had launched his campaign in February with a marked right wing slant on thevalues of work, family and national identity, lurched even further towards the extreme right as he courted Le Pen (right)’s voters in the past two weeks, stressing the far-right topics of immigration, borders and fear of Islam.

Hollande, who has vowed to begin his reforms as soon as he takes office on  May 15, has accepted he will have “no state of grace” leading a country crippled by public debt and in economic crisis, with unemployment nudging a record 10%, a gaping trade-deficit, stuttering growth and declining industry. France’s public debt is so high that interest repayments alone account for the second highest state expenditure after education.

The rating agency Standards and Poors this year downgraded France’s triple-A credit rating, saying that over-high state spending was straining public finances. During the campaign, both Hollande and Sarkozy had promised to balance the books, – France hasn’t had a balanced budget for over 30 years.

Hollande’s manifesto is based on scrapping Sarkozy’s tax-breaks for the rich and putting up taxes for high earners to finance what he deems essential spending, including creating 60,000 posts in France’s under-performing school system. He has pledged to keep the public deficit capped, but for his delicate balancing act to work, he needs a swift return to growth in France, despite economists warning of over-optimistic official growth forecasts that need to be trimmed.

Asked on Friday what he would do if he loses, Sarkozy said simply: “There will be a handover of power.The nation follows its course. The nation is stronger than the destiny of the men who serve it,” he said. The turn-out was high, estimated at around 80%.

17 thoughts on “New President of France: Francios Hollande

  1. We have to watch what happens next in the US where Obama will have to face Republican Mitt Romney in November 2012. Mr Bean favours Obama but I am convinced that the man who won in 2008 on the promise of change is all talk and hype. He has not delivered.

    Now that his domestic policies have not worked and the economy is still not out of the woods, Mr Obama is focusing on his foreign policy successes. That is not relevant to the average American. Jobs, jobs, jobs matter since unemployment is high, and on that score he has failed them.

    Mitt, therefore, has a more than an even chance of winning the Presidency come November. Maybe it is early days to talk about this possibility. I welcome comments from Mr. Bean and Mr. Semper Fi who are in touch with what is happening in their country.

  2. Change is coming to Malaysia too. Najib cannot win big and will have to suffer the same fate as his predecessor, Badawi of Kepala Batas. The question is who will replace him…Muhyiddin Yassin, Rais Yatim, Zahid Hamidi, Mukhriz Mahathir, or remotely Hishammuddin Hussein Onn. Perhaps, we will have the first woman PM and she is Rosmah Mansor.

  3. There is a proper and peaceful transfer in power once the people have chosen a new government. That happens always in a mature democracy like France, the UK or the US. Sarkozy accepted defeat with grace.Will that happen in Malaysia, if there is a change of government by the will of Malaysian voters? We have to wait and see.–Din Merican

  4. Peaceful? Nah.. The usual last minute shredding and burning of documents guarded by decorticate Mat and Minah Rempits. Threatening postures and assassination attempts. Funny thing tho’, the cities will be fairly peaceful – it’s the rural areas that will be in uproar. Just the opposite in western democracies. Nothing more irksome than sore-losers – they are worse than jilted lovers. More akin to homosexual rage.

    My travel advisory would be to cancel all home-stay in the kampongs, in the immediate post-election period esp for Nons. Paris or Washington better, if you guys can afford it.

  5. It is a bad year for the incumbent Dato. Nine European leaders have been booted out.

    It is unfair to heap all the blame on Obama for a recession that took decades in the making. Let’s not miss the wood from the trees. At stake are systems of beliefs at opposite ends of the political spectrum, never more different and opposed to each other. One puts its trust in a small government, the minimum of governmental intervention, less legislation and more trust in Man to do good and together the hope is that left alone to make the right decision albeit a selfish one, to maximize their own welfare the nation’s welfare by some magic formula is also maximized. The other recognizes that Man cannot be left alone to be himself because left alone to do what is best for him, he will ravage the environment, exploit the nation’s resources for his own selfish interests, a system where power gets concentrated in few and fewer hands will sooner or later emerge which will make nonsence of Rousseau’s common good.

    There is never a more stark contrast. We have someone born to a single white mother who had to survive on food stamaps to support herself and her son, and an absent father who was black, someone who excels in his chosen field which is law (and I make no apologies for being a lawyer). the first African American President. At the other end sits a privileged member of society who does not have to work for a living, never knew what it means to be poor who now claims to know what the average working American feels like to have to struggle against all odds to make ends meet so they could put food on the table for their families.

    Which one would you root for??

  6. And who says that socialism is dead? Not in Europe, at least.

    It is hoped by the French voters that Monsieur Hollande will bring more balance back to the EC – Sarkozy was more like a French poodle alongside the rottweiler like charm of Frau Angela Merkel 🙂

    The US Presidency is Obama’s to lose unless Ron Paul gets in the fray. But that is not going to happen because RP does not have the political backing and financial support of the power brokers to fund his political campaigns, for obvious reasons.
    RP is the power brokers’ worst nightmare. RP as President will mean the military industrialists and Wall Streeters will go pokai as he will be derailing their gravy trains.

  7. To all you smart guys up there who seems to know what the American people needs n comment about France’s new president,well it makes good reading,but actually I don’t give a damn.What I am really interested in is whether the new french president will give it’s all to help the judges haul up Najib & co to court,what would his stand on corruption involving French companies n foreign money laundering using French companies as conduit?Obama,Osama,Ogawa, can’t help us get justice,like RPK says,Islamic religion would really gel with Socialism,much better than Democrazy that we are having.

  8. But… but.. Najib said he wants to turn Malaysia into the World’s Best Democracy? How would that be possible if he could not accept defeat graciously?

  9. “What I am really interested in is whether the new french president will give it’s all to help the judges haul up Najib & co to court,” – Lok1

    Don’t hold your breath, you may turn blue. Actually, it’s the other way round, the French do not care about the DCNS Scorpene scandal, nor the Altantuya murder, to say the least. The arms industry is a huge money
    earner for France. Sad to say but it is true that even the previous Socialist government was not free from such controversies.

    The new Socialist leader in France may take care not to open a can of worms. Just a personal opinion and I sure wish that I am proven wrong on this.

  10. Being gracious in political defeat. And peaceful transfer of political power.
    The hallmark of politicians who truly believe in democracy.

    Contrast this with the menacing statements from the kleptocrats from UMNO-BN currently in power.

  11. Dear ocho onda,well I really hope that you are wrong this time,perhaps our Bersih Malaysian in Paris should picket or something over there,well that what I call Wishful thinking,now we have Katak Socialist President covering our Najib’s backside,I thought that Hollande wanna korek Sarcozy n Balladur’s illegal campaign funds,this approach using DCNS as an example will surely bury their opposition and prosecute them both,all he has to do is look the other way n let natural justice be.That’s all I ask,again perhaps,Wishful Thinking from me ocho onda.

  12. You may be right, Lok1. Then again, it all depends on where the prevailing political wind is blowing.
    Sarkozy was exposed to make him look bad. Now that the election is over and he has lost, will the heat on him be turned down ? Sarkozy also know how to korek . Going down, he may be liable to dig a bigger hole and discover a skeleton or two with his detractors’ fingerprints all over.
    Can the incoming Socialist government withstand the heat? Let’s hope that the French judiciary is super independent. 🙂

  13. What happens in Greece is going to decide which way things turn in Europe… not the election of anyone in France. Hollande can only make a difference if he accepts that the EURO was misconceived as was the EU expansion and try to knock this into the heads of other European leaders.

    Which is where Greece comes in. Their route is staring them in the face… follow the example of the little Scandinavian country whose citizens displayed the collective common sense to tell banks where to get off. Greece should announce that it will not pay a single Euro of the fraudulently imposed debt, leave the currency altogether. If this does not happen the NEW DAWN people will do the necessary and that might turn out to be a lot more painful for everyone.

    And yes OCHO-ONDA… it will certainly be socialism… but do not let BEAN hear this because, like most in the US, he seems to have difficulty distinguishing between socialism and communism.

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