France 2012: Hollande president
PARIS, MAY 7 – Francois Hollande is France’s new president, 17 years after the previous socialist president Francois Mitterrand. Between these two: Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and many humiliating defeats for the French ‘gauche’.
The new president immediately addressed Europe, promising ”a new start”, and was called by Angela Merkel, who invited him to Berlin, Mario Monti who proposed closer collaboration and U.S.
President Barack Obama.
With celebrations still in progress, Hollande is already focusing on his tasks. The euro opened down today in Asia, with Hollande’s electoral promises influencing the markets. Last night the new president celebrated under the rain in Tulle, where Hollande was mayor for years and where everybody knows him personally. Later he got on a jet and after one hour he and his partner Valerie Trierweiler arrived at the Bastille, where the new president said he represents ”the young people of France” and announced that this is the start ”of a new European movement”, adding that the time has come to say ”farewell to austerity.” The first phone call Hollande received as president, before Merkel’s call, was made by his opponent Nicolas Sarkozy: “I have wished him good luck,” said the ousted president, who has fought to the last moment to turn his defeat around. ”I have made mistakes, but I accept the responsibility for this defeat”, said a bitter Sarkozy, who is the second president not to be re-elected after Giscard d’Estaing. Sarkozy’s speech was serious and in the end he showed signs of emotion, drained by a very hard and cruel election campaign in which he was abandoned by some important members of his own party. The first thing he said was that he will no longer be leader of the party, leaving the upcoming parliamentary elections in June (looking very bad for his party in the polls) to others, the Fillon-Copé-Juppé triad, which will now take over the leadership of UMP. “Another battle begins,” said the leaders of the defeated right-wing parties, while Marine Le Pen – who had announced to vote blank, that way indirectly helping Hollande – did not care about this defeat: the operation Blue-Marine focuses on emptying the UMP and replace the party, now more than ever. But according to Sarkozy, who did not announce leaving politics, the battle ends here.
France has closed the chapter Sarkozy, the man who has irritated the left and who promised to modernise the country, irritating many in his own party as well. He has carried out half of the reforms he has promised. But the real reasons he lost the vote were his methods and his often arrogant approach, which have done no good for his image. Any concerns Europe may have had about losing Sarkozy, one of the cornerstones of the French-German couple over the past years, seemed to have vanished in the first reactions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Hollande to congratulate him and invited him to come to Berlin, where so far she has refused to receive him. Monti said he hopes the two countries will ”work together closely, particularly in European context, forming an increasingly effective union focusing on growth.” Obama welcomed Hollande on the international stage, starting at the Camp David G8 summit.