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Monsieur Hollande’s Opus?

According to The Guardian, the socialist, François Hollande, appears to be in the process of unseating Nicolas Sarkozy. The results have been known since 7:00pm local time and should be announced any minute now. You can follow the election updates at The Guardian site here.

My in-house translator just woke up from her post SAT slumber. She’s got a French AP coming up next week, sooo…

In the meantime, stand by for Wall Street to commence wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. Wait. Skip that last part. Do you know how much a good suit costs these days?

If Hollande wins, good for the French. It means that they know what’s going on, won’t be taken in by the fearmongers and definitely do not want to adopt Third world labor habits and living standards.

Here’s an update from Paris by writer Fiachra Gibbons:

Euphoric atmosphere at Bastille — hard to believe that François Hollande, the clubable once chubby Monsieur Flamby, could provoke quite so much fervour, but he has — and we don’t even have the official, official results yet. The truth is the thousands of Parisians here have gathered as much to celebrate the demise and humiliation of Nicolas Sarkozy as the triumph of François Hollande.

People are smiling, laughing, being wonderfully joyful and polite — generally not behaving at all like Parisians ought to in public. It must have been like this after the liberation — when Parisians, who usually go to great lengths to ignore and be pointlessly rude to each other, also let their hair down for a few days. A Portuguese gardienne from my quarter who hasn’t talked to me once in six years just hugged and kissed me on the mouth when she recognised me in the crowd. Immaculata voted for Le Pen in the first round but against Sarko today. “It is true there are too many foreigners and Muslims in France but his voice was driving me mad. He’s a crazy person. And he was making the country as crazy as him. It could not go on. All he cared about was himself and his rich friends.”

A shout of “Sarko en prison!” — roughly, “Lock up Sarko” — has been taken up by a part of the crowd, a reference to the multiple corruption and party funding investigations he will now face, from the Karachi scandal over the death of 11 French engineers in Pakistan over alleged unpaid kickbacks to Bettencourt brown envelopes and now allegations of millions from Gaddafi. An even more grisly chant of “Copé au pot eau!” (“Put Copé against the wall [and shoot him]) is also making an occasional appearance, aimed at the not very likable head of Sarko’s UMP party — who if you can imagine such a thing, plays the Mr Nasty to Sarko’s Mr Nice — and who was responsible for the ban on niqab. But the violence of the slogan seems completely at odds with the mood of the night and is being drowned out by the very drole, “Copé au burqa!” (Put Copé in a burqa!)

Lots of people I have talked to believe France is rid of Sarko forever, that there is no way back for him now. (There are, rather cruelly, not giving his marriage much of a chance of survival either.). They point to his frequent protests that he would withdraw forever from public life if he lost, which I think amounted to “Re-elect me or I will never play with you again”.’But I don’t think this will be the last we hear of him. Remember he has Transylvanian blood — and as far as I can seetonight, there’s been no crucifixes or silver bullets

It sounds rather personal.

Update: It’s official. François Hollande is the next President of France:

François Hollande élu président de la République LIVE
Le candidat du PS a devancé Nicolas Sarkozy au second tour de l’élection présidentielle, avec 51,8 % des voix contre 48,2 % au président sortant, selon les estimations Ipsos pour “Le Monde”, France télévisions et Radio France à partir des premiers bulletins dépouillés.

51,9 %
48,1 %

Présidentielle : 71,96 % de participation à 17 heures

Not a landslide but decisive nonetheless. Congratulations to all my former French ex-pat colleagues who voted today.

More on why Sarkozy lost from Angelique Chrisafis at The Guardian reporting from Paris:

Sarkozy is the 11th European leader to be ejected since the economic crisis. But the irony is that he was not booted out directly because of it. The eurozone crisis was paradoxically one of the only ways he could have won the election, selling himself as Super Sarko, an international firefighter and problem-solver, protecting France. That was the message of his election posters which featured his portrait against the sea: Captain Courage in a storm. But instead of vaunting his crisis-busting skills or even leadership in the intervention in Libya, he chose to pour his energies into veering hard-right in a crusade against immigration and halal meat, blaming Islam for the troubles in French society, and claiming to protect the Christian roots of Europe. Much of this harked back to his ill-fated far-right flirtations in office, from his controversial ministry of immigration and national identity, which he eventually abandoned, to a speech blaming Roma for crime in France and dismantling their camps.

Sarkozy’s courtship of the far right ultimately failed. By bringing the favourite topics of the Front National into the mainstream, namely immigration and fear of Islam, he served only to strengthen its leader, Marine Le Pen. He also dented his own legacy, leaving himself for the time being remembered in French minds not for what he defined as his bullishness in defending France abroad, or for reforms such as lowering the pension age, but for a divisive, stigmatising campaign that even some in his own camp privately felt was repulsive.

Sunday’s vote was a personal referendum on Sarkozy.

There’s a warning in there for Obama that I think the Democratic party has not been paying attention to. If you court the far right, you end up strengthening it. Also, this fall, expect it to get very personal. Bludgeoning the voters with accusations of racism will probably backfire this year even if they happen to be a lot more true this year than in 2008. Win by racism, lose by racism. And those of us falsely accused in the past will not be coming to your aid this time. Maybe it would have been better to have spent the last four years fixing the crisis instead of giving in to rich friends and polishing your image.

Just sayin’.

Latest update: François Hollande says this about going forward: “Austerity can no longer be inevitable in Europe” The Socialist candidate, elected President of the Republic Sunday, said he was “proud to have been able to restore hope.” He asks to be judged on two commitments: “Justice and Youth”.

Sounds like he has been talking to Krugman. Or Occupy.

38 Responses

  1. The truth is the thousands of Parisians here have gathered as much to celebrate the demise and humiliation of Nicolas Sarkozy as the triumph of François Hollande.

    … Isn’t this how Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize?

  2. While I didn’t vote for Obama myself, we all know why people did vote for him. And it wasn’t for a 3rd Bush term. Still, that’s what we got.

    I hope the French have better luck.

    • My impression of my French Colleagues is that they are a lot more savvy about politics than we are. They have more legitimate parties and have a better feel for the distinctions between them.
      They’re probably not too thrilled with the prospects of more strikes but the change to their retirement structure was a wake up call to them. And they have neighbors who are suffering badly from austerity measures so, you know, rehiring a guy who is cozy with the rich had probably lost its charm. I hope they’re done flirting with the rich and get more serious about protecting their workers’ rights.

      • You’re right there, this is a nation of political addicts, people who love a good argument, meeting or demonstration, who have kept the Canard Enchaîné alive for 100 years.

        • Yes, one of the things I miss about being around them is their tendency to have very spirited arguments with each other and still go to lunch.

      • The French know their politics and they’ve had it with Sarkozy’s policies. The French understand that equality is as important as freedom.

        Liberté, égalité, fraternité

        Vive la France!

        • Equality and social cohesion are more highly prized here than in the US and the stigmatizing of immigrants, Muslims, Arabs and Africans was deeply disturbing to a lot of people.

      • a lot more savvy about politics

        Maybe because they actually have democratic elections? We keep voting but over half the time we vote (for some of us ALL the time) our votes don’t even count.

        We’ve got a travesty of democracy here. Is it any wonder people are discouraged?

        • Here voting is simple as pie. You take a slip of paper with a name, put it in an envelope, and stuff it in a box. (You’re supposed to take two slips of paper to keep your vote secret.) The ballots are opened and counted in public view. No voting machines, butterfly ballots or hanging chads. 81% of 46 million eligible voters do this and they still get the returns out by the end of the day.

    • Are the same networks of people who organized to cast their primary votes for HRC now organizing to deny their election votes from BHO no matter what the cost? Hopefully all those people are still in touch with eachother and could activate and weaponise their networks again.

    • One other thing that makes Hollande different from Obama is that Hollande had been in politics for a loooong time. He is well known within his party and got here the old fashioned way by working his way up in his own party. Obama came from virtually nowhere in 2004 and wasn’t in the senate long enough to know how to find the bathroom on each floor. There’s really no comparison. From my limited knowledge of these things, sarkozy was the anomaly. He didn’t fit the socialist model and he was too crude.
      Plus he was short and liked a lot of pomp and circumstance. Sort of like he was trying to overcompensate, if you know what I mean.

      • Sarkozy was vulgar and that really rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. The French like their presidents to possess a minimum of culture and dignity and Sarko didn’t have that. When he mentioned he considered it pointless to be able to discuss a classic of French literature, La Princesse de Clèves, the public organized read-ins in response.

  3. Stick a fork in Sarko, all right. He’s done.

    I don’t think people are particularly taken with Francois Hollande, but they are really, really sick of President Bling-Bling. The turn towards xenophobia in the past few years has really dismayed and disgusted many French. Jean-Luc Melenchon of the Front de Gauche made it clear that firing Sarko was Job 1: he called immediately and unequivocally to vote for Hollande in the second round. I’m not sure what a Hollande administration will do, except that it won’t be a worker’s paradise here, but least we won’t be hearing officially-sanctioned racism.

    • Geez, UMP activists are a bunch of sore losers. All the jeering when Sarko called for respect for a democratic, republican decision!

    • If the French can see through all of the anti-immigrant nationalism crap for what it was, why can’t Americans get it?
      BTW, it looks like you guys are having a party in Paris. So much fun!

      • Not all of them do. A sizeable chunk of them don’t–specifically the 18% who voted for Marine LePen in the first round. It’s by winning over a chunk of those voters in 2007 that Sarko got elected, and it’s partly by the advent of Marine LePen that he lost.

        François Bayrou in the center threw his weight behind Hollande; the far left fell in line behind Hollande whereas Marine LePen refused to endorse and announced she would ‘vote blanc’ (put a blank slip of paper in the box.) In some ways it’s much like the US where the extremes can make or break the election, except that it’s between parties here and within parties back in the US.

        It’s kinda dull at the house but I sure can hear the hootin’ and hollerin’ from the balcony.

        • BIG crowd at Bastille.

        • Ségolène Royal, 2007 Socialist candidate and Hollande’s ex, is one of the Socialists on TF1. I’m undoubtedly projecting but I could swear I see a glimmer of ‘I don’t fucking believe this’ on her face.

          • Yeah, she should have won. But it was sarkozy and knowing the few French sarkozy voters that I do, I’m sure her gender had something to do with it.

          • Undoubtedly. Our butcher, a central-casting Frenchman if ever I saw one, told my husband that he wouldn’t support Martine Aubrey because the French were not ready for a woman president. “By the French he means himself, right?” I asked when I heard that.

          • Yeah, one of the sarkozy voters at work definitely had an attitude about women.

          • It wasn’t just you — I saw it too. Of course, I MIGHT have been projecting as well. I really, really thought that I would be more excited about this, but really: meh.

          • Well, Hollande is not the kind of guy you get carried away over.

        • Parade of young Socialists across Paris from party HQ to Bastille.

    • Copé is a total weasel who is aiming for 2017.

      And nobody does scandal quite like the French. It’s a positively baroque affair, with intricate networks of intrigue, suitcases stuffed with cash and people with names like Dodo le Saumur and Hélène of Yugoslavia.

      • Oo, Oo, dish, girlfriend. I can’t French. I can only read it without a lot of help from google translate. So what’s this about Cope? And I know Hollande dumped Segolene for his latest squeeze. Wow, it’s so refreshing to see that politicians can have a sex life and not lie about it and that not everyone has to be married to the same spouse for a zillion years.
        We could learn a lot from the French.

        • Jean-François Copé is the head of the UMP, the job Sarko used to have, and an unpleasant little weasel.

          Hollande’s companion is named Valérie Trierweiller, a journalist at Paris Match. I don’t know much about her but she seems all right. Male politico-female journalist is a very common pairing here. It makes for a hermetically sealed echo chamber, but at least they keep each other busy and are away from the rest of us.

          You know Sarko has 4 kids by 3 women. Can you imagine the stink political opponents in the US would make over that? He’d be baby daddy and worse. Here, no one really cares. If it’s respectful, consensual and not in everyone’s face, people are ok with it. DSK is another story, of course.

          • Maureen Dowd has a piece up about DSK, trying to link him to Hollande in a round about way. I wonder if it was written on orders from her corporate masters in an attempt to derail his campaign?

          • Who appointed her expert in French politics?

            There are some serious questions about who knew what when about DSK and those questions definitely include Hollande, but I wouldn’t consider that DSK sullies Hollande.

  4. Hollande is making his way to the podium in his home constituency of Tulle.

  5. Michael Savage is predicitng that all the productive people will leave France now.

    • To which erstwhile candidate Jean Luc Mélenchon famously says, Qu’ils s’en aillent tous! (Let ’em all go!) He says for every CEO that leaves there’s another more talented person waiting to take his place.

      The Savage Wiener is full of crap. It didn’t happen in 1981 and it certainly won’t happen now.

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