France Elects First Socialist President Since 1995
Francois Hollande (l.) beat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the French runoff presidential election Sunday, becoming France's first Socialist president of France since François Mitterrand left office in 1995.
With about half the vote counted, preliminary results released by the Interior Ministry shortly after the last polling stations closed at 8 PM local time showed Hollande had won about 51 percent of the vote and Sarkozy, of the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, had won about 49 percent.
The outcome of the contest was a humiliating defeat for the brash and increasingly unpopular Sarkozy. Shortly after the polls closed, he called his challenger to concede defeat.
Some observers contend that nothing much is likely to change in France. Au contraire. Foreign Confidential™ correspondents in France and Germany predict that Hollande's victory will constitute a formidable challenge to the German-dominated policy of extreme economic austerity in the euro zone, which is suffering from record unemployment and recession.
Though few Americans are likely to agree at this stage of their political process, the French elections could also boost President Obama's chances for reelection by further discrediting the idea that depressions and recessions are appropriate times to cut--or gut--government spending in order to address long-term fiscal problems. From Paris, France to Peoria, Illinois, voters are mainly focused on one word: jobs.
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