Nicolas Sarkozy may have been the most gangsta president that France has ever had, but that wasn't enough to ensure him a victory in today's elections. Candidate François Hollande beat Sarkozy by just a few points - about 52% versus Sarkozy's 48% - making him the first socialist president to hold office since François Mitterrand in 1995.
The shift in power is likely due to to an ailing French economy, which is suffering from both a recession and record-high employment. Hollande's campaign platform was essentially to promise a "kinder, gentler, more inclusive France," as well as promoting him as the only other option next to Sarkozy. "Hollande’s bet was that rejection of Nicolas Sarkozy was enough to get him elected," senior researcher at Paris’s Institute of Political Studies, Dominique Reynie, told Bloomberg News. "The message was that if you don’t like Sarkozy then I’m your best bet."
In his speech after the results were released, Sarkozy wished Hollande luck in office, saying, "François Hollande is the president of the republic, he must be respected." Additionally, he accepted "total responsibility" for today's results, adding, "My involvement in the life of my country will be different now .. but time will never weaken the ties between us."
Hollande's entrance into office is expected to heighten tensions between France and "key allies," according to Bloomberg News, as he has "advocated a more aggressive European Central Bank role in spurring growth -- a measure opposed by Germany -- and an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan."
He will be inaugurated later this month.
[via NY Times]