Yesterday François Hollande became the 7th president of the 5th French Republic. His victory over the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, was predicted by many but the vote was still close: 51.6% to 48.44%.
In spite of Sarkozy's shift to the right (and all the pre-election shenanigans like the Circulaire Gueant), I still would have voted for him if I had had the right to vote here. It appears that my neighbors here in Versailles and I were on the same wavelength since they voted overwhelmingly in his favor. I've been a sincere admirer of his for years and I thought that he did a fine job of steering France through some very tough times. With family and friends on two continents I was well placed to see how France under Sarkozy escaped some of the worst of the global recession and that is to his credit. Watching his very gracious concession speech this morning I was reminded once again of all the reasons I liked him and how amazing he is when he is at his very best.
Do I think he will actually content himself with being "A French among the French?" Not for two seconds. I think the political arena of the future in this part of the world is Europe and I expect to see him there.
I may have admired Sarkozy but I'm not unhappy to see Hollande win. Not only was I was very fond of the last Socialist president, François Mitterand, but Hollande's 2012 platform is one I like: "égalité" to soften the "austerité," gay marriage rights, possible voting rights for long-term residents, and a plan for economic growth that has found favor with economists. Here is Hollande's victory speech last night at the place de la Bastille in Paris: