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.
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.
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.