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Non, Sarkozy: In France, François Hollande Brings Socialism Back to Power After 24 Years

| May 6, 2012

François Hollande, vainqueur.

Last Updated: 2:51 p.m.

The results were announced at precisely 8 p.m. Paris time, 2 p.m. Eastern: Socialist François Hollande, short on ministerial experience and charisma but big on hope, is the new French president, defeating the center-right’s Nicolas Sarkozy with 52 percent of the vote, and making the mercurial Sarkozy France’s first one-term president since Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 1981. Five years ago, Sarkozy defeated Ségolène Royal with 53 percent of the vote.

While unquestionably convincing, the victory was by a smaller margin than predicted in the past several days. The reason: in his appeal for last-minute votes, Sarkozy–in an echo of what may be in store for the American election, if the GOP intends to win back the White House–made outright attacks on immigrants (“too many immigrants”, he said) as he appealed for the extreme-right votes of the followers of Marine Le Pen, the ultra-nationalist whose ideological DNA is closest, in the American scene, to the evangelical vote.

Hollande brings Socialism back to the French presidency for the first time in a quarter century. The last Socialist president before Hollande was another François: Mitterand’s 14-year reign ended in 1988. Sarkozy’s defeat is the 11th for a European leader in the past two years, a sweep of incumbents that signals broad displeasure with an enduring economic crisis with ripples affecting the American economy, and that may affect the American election in six months.

Sarkozy at 8:23 p.m. (2:23 Eastern), standing under his “La France forte” logo (“A Strong France”) conceded with uncharacteristic grace for a man who thrived, and was eventually defeated, by an in-your-face style that never managed its substantive equivalent. He laughed when he said: “I assume all responsibilities for this defeat,” and added: “When there’s a defeat, it’s No. 1 who bears the first responsibility.”

The Obama and Romney camps are undoubtedly watching the results closely, because the French electorate’s behavior this year had less do do with accomplishments than desires: Sarkozy was not an incompetent president. He helped hold Europe together through the first phases of its financial crisis. He took a leadership role in the military face-off against Libya’s Qaddafi. He attempted to hold the line on taxes without shirking the state’s responsibility to pay its debts, but debts nevertheless grew (by 400 billion euros, or about $500 billion) on his watch, as did unemployment, which stands at a Florida-like 9.8 percent. His temper, his manners, even his indelicate habit of flaunting wealth and wives (he is married to Carla Bruni, the singer and ex-model) in the face of enduring hardships did not endure him with the electorate. In that regard, he has a few things in common with Romney.

He also made innumerable promises he did not keep, particularly to French youth, among whom unemployment is epidemic: Sarkozy decisively lost the youth vote in today’s election–another signal to Obama that, should the same results be reflected in November’s election, bodes ill for a president who relied overwhelmingly on the youth vote in 2008. His promises “to raise spending power and create more jobs,” the Finantial Times reported last week, “are now being thrown back in his face as broken promises. Unemployment and wages are top of voters’ concerns, along with education and health, underscoring the threat felt by voters to France’s cherished social model. Immigration and security, which play to Mr. Sarkozy’s strengths, are further down the list of priorities.”

Mr Sarkozy’s 2007 promises to raise spending power and create more jobs are now being thrown back in his face as broken promises. Unemployment and wages are top of voters’ concerns, along with education and health, underscoring the threat felt by voters to France’s cherished social model. Immigration and security, which play to Mr Sarkozy’s strengths, are further down the list of priorities.

“Despite throwing himself into a vigorous campaign,” writes The Economist, “Mr Sarkozy failed to persuade enough voters that the inexperienced Mr Hollande did not have what it takes to be president—or to overcome a prevailing desire in France for change. His defeat now opens a new chapter on the political right, with an ensuing succession battle that could be bloody.”

Hollande takes over a fractured nation whose tricolor flag is an apt reflection of sharp divides between a red and blue nation, with a large brood of disaffected voters in between.

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28 Responses for “Non, Sarkozy: In France, François Hollande Brings Socialism Back to Power After 24 Years”

  1. k says:

    I wonder if this return to a socialist led government is a sign that average citizens are seeking equality and are tired of the 1% reaping the benefits of conservative leaning legislation while the middle class shrinks as the impoverished class grows.

    Personally, I am glad to see this and I believe it bodes worse for Governor Romney, a conservative capitalist member of the 1% than it does for President Obama who better identifies with the 99% and is regularly called a socialist.

    If the world must convert to socialism in order to level the playing field then so be it. I welcome that more than I do the theory of trickle down economics purchased and maintained by the shrinking wealthy elite class.

  2. SAW says:

    Big mistake, cradle to grave protection administered by ones own government takes away initiative, and drive to succeed. Socialism only works till the other guys money runs out’, then overnight before you know it you become Greece. Evidently France has not learned this from their neighbors yet, but they will.

  3. B. Claire says:

    Domestically, the vote was considered to be a rejection of Mr. Sarkozy and his effort to appeal to the voters of the far right National Front.

    Hummm, now what empty suit 1%er does this sound like here…Bif Mittens III, perhaps?

  4. Linda H. says:

    I would say to those wanting socialism, there are many countries which you might want to explore. I believe the people in this one might wish to remain free to make their own choices, to achieve and to be what you want to be.

    They aren’t leaving the United States, they are immigrating and it is not for socialism.

    • Steve O'Rourke says:

      When you think of Socialism, you think of Stalinism and totalitarianism. When I think of Socialism, I think of Social Democrats, Socialist Democrats and Democratic Socialists, all of whom are very pro-democracy. Of course, having a two-party system (how’s that for lack of freedom?), most Americans are as proud of being ignorant of political alternatives as they are of foreign languages.

      I will gladly leave if you pay for my Dutch lessons.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      I’d go there tomorrow except for the fact I won’t leave my country to the fascists taking it over without a good fight. But when that time comes Linda darlin’, I’ll give you a call. You can renounce your Social Security, Medicare, Food stamps and all the rest and come with me to the Brave New World.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    I never liked Sarkozy….either. Frivolous man with his wealthy life style and women while their middle class and poor are suffering a financial crisis. Spending big money and lives by attacking Libya and I know the French people totally disliked it. American leadership liked it, but the French are the ones at the ballot box not us. Nowadays broken promises could create mayhem for incumbents.

  6. k says:

    Socialism in it’s pure form has nothing to do with limiting freedom. However, the same people that buy their way to power & elitism in a capitalist government would likely be the culprits that pull out all the stops to prevent equality in a socialist government.

    Greed and a ticket to exercise greed is a poison that is destroying the world.

    • Linda H. says:

      Do you mean people like those close to the President: Warren Buffet, Jeff Imelt, CEO of GE and Jobs Czar who is busy sending manufacturing jobs offshore?

      Greed exists on both sides. I think we all know that. I would look for many election losses on both sides this November.

      I’ll stick with my capitalist government. I can vote THEM OUT.

  7. k says:

    Seems to me Buffet is willing to pay and wants the tax code changed so he pays his fair share. Unfortunately the GOP heavy House won’t let those changes through. They want to protect companies like GE, Big Oil and shipping American jobs offshore in the name of capitalism.

    • Linda H. says:

      According to what I have been hearing, the ‘well to do” are already leaving this country because of our high tax rates.

      When they are gone, how will we pay for this new Socialist lifestyle? We don’t have any jobs.

      • Steve O'Rourke says:

        We don’t have any jobs because they were all outsourced by the ‘well-to-do’ individuals and corporations. Mine went to Mexico in 2003, under which President again?

  8. rickg says:

    Please people, let’s understand that democracy is a form of government that is generally accepted by all. Socialism or capitalism is an economic system. Either can thrive under democracy if the appropriate checks and balances are in play.

    • Linda H. says:

      Name one Socialist country that is thriving.

      • Zachary says:

        Germany is thriving despite their austerity measures and among the members of the EU they are the strongest economy #1 followed by France.

    • Steve O'Rourke says:

      I know this, rickg, but face it, most people are metaphorically sticking their fingers in their ears are saying, “La la la, I can’t hear you!”

  9. Zachary says:

    Also Australia’s economy is doing very well thanks in part to China’s demand for their mineral exports, and they have that evil socialist universal healthcare too. And they are even importing skilled U.S. workers because of their booming economy.

  10. Linda H. says:

    And both are behind the United States. Germany is #4 and France is listed as #5.

    I’ll stick with this guy:

    “An opportunity society awaits us. We need only believe in ourselves and give men and women of faith, courage, and vision the freedom to build it. Let others run down America and seek to punish success. Let them call you greedy for not wanting government to take more and more of your earnings. Let them defend their tombstone society of wage and price guidelines, mandatory quotas, tax increases, planned shortages, and shared sacrifices. We want no part of that mess, thank you very much.” –Ronald Reagan

    • Steve O'Rourke says:

      You asked what countries were thriving, Linda, not which country was #1.

      Let’s posit a #1 individual whose income is $100K a year; are the individuals making, say, $80K and $75K respectively that much worse off?

      There’s video of Reagan voicing APPROVAL of taxing the well-off at a higher rate on YouTube.

    • Zachary says:

      Linda H; Germany is listed as #4 in the WORLD according to GDP, AND look who’s #2 in the WORLD China (Controlled by the Communist Party), they have universal healthcare and every ‘evil’ socialistic mechanism known. But Germany like I stated is #1 in the European Union (see Japan is #3 in the WORLD, they too have a generous social safety net, which some conservatives would call socialism. So the top four countries in terms of GDP as you would refer to them as socialist havens.

  11. Steve O'Rourke says:

    I hear Sweden is doing fairly well.

  12. NortonSmitty says:

    It’s just no fun anymore. You can’t debate the brainwashed, half-educated, mean-spirited and unimaginative. As Mark Twain said, “Never try to enlighten a pig. It will just break your heart and piss off the pig.”


  13. rickg says:

    Thanks Steve, you made my point along with a few others… Which teabaggers would call socialist like Norway, Switzerland etc… and by the way Linda H. I wouldn’t bank too much on what Ronald Reagan was saying as President…. You know he raised taxes 12 times and he did sleep through a couple of international incidents. But then again, he was so grandfatherly…

    • Linda H. says:

      Hey guys, mostly Rickg, I’m not a Tea Bagger, but I am a Tea Party Flagler member. I’m a military wife. And I’m just not ready to go the Socialism route, so please forgive me for saying anything that offended you. I believe in America and I believe in it’s people. Always have. And as for Ronald Reagan, there are some close connections there, so he is much more to me than just a President.

      Norton, I love your comments as well. I look forward to them.

      I’m must plain tired of a divided country, of the short tempers, the people who can’t talk politics without getting angry, me included.

      Steve, it doesn’t matter who sent the jobs overseas. What matters is what we do now.

      I enjoy the comments I read here.

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