French elections result in Hollande’s replacement of Sarkozy as new president
Supporters of Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 French presidential election celebrate at Place de la Bastille in Paris, France, May 6, after the announcement of the first official results of the French presidential final round. Socialist candidate Francois Hollande won the French presidential election. Used with permission/ Nicolas Messyasz/Abaca Press/ MCT
The May 6 runoff that was set to determine the president of France has ended and a clear winner of the election has been declared. Francois Hollande is the new president of France. He won with 51.62 percent of the vote ahead of Sarkozy who had 48.38 percent of the vote.
There were a total of 10 candidates in the current French elections, but the competition recently came down to two men, current President Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande from the Socialist Party.
Hollande is the first left-wing president since Francois Mitterand in 1995. However, Sarkozy was seeking to add a second five-year term to his repertoire following Jacques Chirac who served for 12 years.
In the first round of the elections, Sarkozy finished behind Hollande with 27.2 percent of the vote while Hollande had 28.6 percent.
While the race seemed limited to these two, a couple of extreme candidates including one from the far left and one from the far right, were expected to affect the outcome. The candidates were Marine Le Pen, with 17.9 percent, on the far right and Jean-Luc Melenchon, with 11.1 percent, on the left. Le Pen is the daughter of the 2002 presidential finalist Jean-Marie Le Pen.
The remaining popularity of these extremists caused Hollande to sway left and Sarkozy to sway right.
The one topic that dominated the election was the economy.
Jim Bittermann, CNN correspondent in Paris, told CNN, “Basically for months now, the top issues have been unemployment and purchasing power.”
Jobs have been difficult to come by in France, which made Sarkozy vulnerable. He is especially unpopular with young people because of the heightened unemployment amongst teen-agers, according to CNN.
CNN also stated that comparing Sarkozy and Hollande on economic policy is similar to comparing Democrats and Republicans. Hollande wanted more government action while Sarkozy wanted to lower taxes.
Some other topics that dominated the election were immigration, race and the assimilation of France’s large Muslim community. These topics existed even before the March 6 shootings by an Islamic extremist.
Sarkozy has been tough on immigration. Last year a law banned the burqa, an Islamic face covering, in public places.
The election is not scheduled to affect relations between the United States and France. However, because Hollande has been elected, some critics think that it will create instability in the Eurozone, which is trying to help Europe through the debt crisis.
In his acceptance speech, Hollande alluded to possibly getting rid of the austere budget cuts that have provided hope for the European economy.
He told citizens that, “Austerity is not the only option.”
In response to his speech, Asian markets plunged more than two percent according to CNN.
As of press time, Sarkozy has been instructed to hand over power by midnight on May 17.