Narrow Socialist Win Spells Trouble

Socialist leader François Hollande who narrowly scraped home in the  presidential election run-off May 6 to become France’s first socialist head of state since the Mitterrand era (1981), faces a hostile environment in which to implement  promised social, financial and political change.

Google changed its .fr logo in honour of the May 6 election run-off

Worse while the turnout was unusually high (nearly 80%) for the second round, the electorate registered a strong protest as an historic 2 million voted blank, possibly a reflection of dissent by those of Marine Le Pen’s Front National voters who opted not to transfer their vote to Hollande or Sarkozy.

Should that be the case Marine Le Pen’s strategy for bringing about a realignment of the French Right via a  break-up of the now decidedly shaky broad right UMP-led coalition, would appear to be off to a flying start. Should she succeed some expect to see le Pen at the head of an FN-UMP (or its replacement) rightwing coalition, where the political Centre will have crumbled and the fight will be a clear brawl between a muscular Right and Mélenchon-style hard Left in the 2017 presidential race.

In the light of likely domestic realignments ahead, the outcome of a general election in Greece May 6 and a 12 September early general election in the Netherlands, could combine to show where the winds blow in the EU. For among the next steps are  a two-round general election  in France on 10 and 17 June, an electoral outcome in Greece that might see an incoming rightwing-pressured government repudiate the recent EU bailout and choose to abandon the eurozone and whether in the Netherlands ,  Geert Wilders’  far right PVV party continues to hold the balance of power.

France 24 banners the result as Hollande takes 51%


Speaking to FRANCE 24’s Roselyne Febvre and RFI’s Frédéric Rivière, just three days before the run-off, Hollande said that Sarkozy’s five-year presidential term had been marked by “a lot of divisions”. Watch the whole discussion here:

Below is a hot-off-the-presses first reaction to the election outcome from Art Goldhammer, a respected, long-time observer of French politics and centre-left US academic:


31 years: a lifetime. I remember the election of François Mitterrand. I was a lot younger then and a lot less lucid about the challenges that face a newly elected president. For me it was an exciting moment in May 1981, the first and until today the only alternance in the history of theFifthRepublic. The enthusiasm was great, and in my naiveté I thought that enthusiasm could accomplish a great deal. This time, there is far much less enthusiasm about the victory, but the challenges are even greater than they were in 1981.Europeis facing an unprecedented crisis, and the newly elected president will be at the mercy of events. He will have to contend with other heads of state who do not share his vision of the world. And he will be tested, immediately by the markets, eventually by the unions and others who expect changes that he never promised and cannot deliver. As for Sarkozy, his departure speech … (was) … dignified and correct. I never shared the visceral hatred that many in France felt toward him, and I am glad that his manner of leaving office suggests that the pugnacious character he often chose to portray is not, as I always believed, the only Sarkozy but rather a persona that he believed, rightly or wrongly, to be politically effective.”

And as “Robert” one of the commenters on Art Goldhammer’s blog noted: “Just barely good enough, to be honest, because I’m astonished by the relative loseness (sic) of the final result. I mean, Sarko alienated everyone, including many in his own camp; … (and) turned to the most blatantly divisive and stigmatizing tactics during (the runoff).  And that’s not all! His staff were out looking for jobs; he basically received no endorsement after April 22; his own supporters didn’t believe he would pull it off; and he still came in at 48%?  …”

Weighing in to underline the appalling state of affairs in the EU — where Hollande has just made a rocky landing — the leftwing weekly magazine Marianne  highlighted problems that lie ahead, with this gloomy headline on its website Sunday: La crise financière fait (encore) trembler l’Europe. (Europe continues to tremble from the financial crisis) 

Feedback:  BOURQUE NEWSWATCH Canada’s Online News Authority, features our report with its main coverage of the outcome of a vote closely followed in French-speaking Quebec.

Screengrab from election reporting


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