PARIS: Scenes of jubilation were witnessed across France on Sunday as Socialist Party’s François Hollande won the presidential race, defeating Nicolas Sarkozy who spent one term in office. Sarkozy was beaten by a clear margin according to projections by pollsters.
Joyful crowds gathered in Hollande’s adopted hometown of Tulle and in Paris to celebrate his victory. “We are rid of a poison that was blighting our society. A normal president! It gives us a lot to dream about,” said Didier Stephan, a 70-year-old artist who was among throngs of supporters at Paris’s Place de la Bastille.
Average projected results based on initial counts of ballots cast from polling institutes stated that Hollande won 51.9% of the votes while Sarkozy managed to grab 48.1% of the votes. Sarkozy conceded defeat within half an hour of the last polling stations closing.
“I have just spoken to him on the telephone to wish him good luck,” Sarkozy said, as polling institutes projected Hollande would win the election with between 51.8 to 52% of the vote, based on initial counts of ballots cast. Sarkozy told his supporters that he took responsibility for his defeat, saying: “It’s the number one who takes responsibility.” He also said he would not lead his right-wing UMP party into June’s parliamentary polls.
Hollande will join a minority of left-wing governments in Europe and has vowed to renegotiate a budget discipline treaty signed by 25 European Union leaders in March, to add growth measures. Berlin has made the pact a pre-condition of aid for struggling states.
Hollande is France’s first Socialist president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.