Well done to François Hollande for his victory in yesterday’s French presidential elections. I guess that now is when the difficult work starts. There was a 20% abstention rate and, since Hollande beat Nicolas Sarkozy by 4%, it cannot be argued that he has an overwhelming mandate from the French people. He will also be faced by a challenge of managing the expectations of the various supporters that the Socialist Party has relied on over the last few days and weeks and how he can accommodate them into his new government. There is also the slight matter of the parliamentary elections in June. Of course, I’m sure that he will consider that it is better to be in this position than not have the presidency at all.
Having said that, I am pleased to see that France has elected a socialist president and hopefully one who will be willing to tackle the economic crisis affecting France and Europe with something more positive and creative than the fantastically brutal and unfair “austerity” measures forced on the people elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how this done, certainly as Hollande’s Corrèze constituency has a reputation for being mismanaged financially.
It is disappointingly predictable to see the reaction of the major financial markets to Hollande’s election as well as to the Greek election results. Whilst I realise that we, rightly or wrongly, live in a world measured and judged entirely in monetary terms, I am unhappy with the weight given to short-term movements in the world’s economic markets and judgements from credit agencies as indicators of proper political decision making rather than the impacts on the wider public.
One impressive part of yesterday’s celebrations was the enthusiasm and genuine excitement from the French public, or at least half of them. It is hard to imagine the same clamour and joy being expressed in the UK, as people to come together to cheer on their candidate. I would normally expect to greet such news with a mumble or a moan over a few pints rather than to get out into the streets to dance or to beep my car horn*. Such levels of political engagement can only be applauded.
* Being British, I am generally caught out when I have to beep my horn, since I can never quickly remember where it is.