France: A Land of Baguettes, Cafe Au Laits and… Socialism!


We knew The Artist was a sign of what was to come. Salut, Sarkozy, c’est la vie.

This afternoon, President Nicolas Sarkozy, head of the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, conceded his re-election for a second term to Francois Hollande, the first President-elect from the French Socialist Party since Francis Mitterand left the office in 1995. Sarkozy is also the first incumbent to lose since 1981. Ouch, monsieur.
With a staggering unemployment rate of 10%, Hollande based his message on battling the austerity measures that have hit Europe in the midst of a deep recession. By attacking Sarkozy’s economic record and stewardship of rough times, Hollande was able to come out with a 51% of the popular vote.
You heard it, folks; don’t listen to the Tea Party – the real Socialist isn’t in the White House… he’s in Paris. But Hollande’s election poses an interesting outlier in European politics and its influence could end up back here.
Sarkozy’s defeat is not the first major casualty of the redrawn political landscape of Europe. The coalition government established in 2010 by David Cameron, the head of the Conservative Party in the UK, came off a populist wave against Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s handling of the financial crisis. Greece’s Prime Minister, Georgios Papandreou, stepped down due to popular demand earlier this year and Spain elected Conservative President Mariano Rajoy last year.
But all of these candidates were reactionary politicians, arguing that austerity was the way to go in order to salvage the euro and maintain stability. Hollande, on the other hand, is the first winning European candidate to say otherwise, making him a political fish out of water.
First off, the anti-austerity message comes from a country right in the middle of the tumultuous eurozone. His ideological difference is surrounded by recession-conservative countries like Germany, whose leader, Prime Minister Angela Merkel, has led the austerity measures in Greece and elsewhere; and Spain, where the government has implemented large budgetary cuts to the public’s dismay. Throwing Hollande into that mix is like electing Dick Cheney as a state senator in Vermont.
In our imminent election (6 months from today! Oh… no), at least Romney has a point of reference now when he pulls up Obama’s past “leftist” record. It’s kind of hard to state “I am the Constitution; he is European socialism” when the continent he’s referring to has never been more conservative in its spending.
And it’s France: the country taken off the name “French Fries” in the Bush years for appearing weak out of its unwillingness to join us in our little Iraqi adventure back in ’03. Romney can have a field day with this one.
Until the first mention of “universal healthcare” or “Stalin,” Runnin’ Scared will have its eyes peeled on what is to come out of this new Socialist agenda from Francois Hollande in France. And the world will too.