News

France Elects First Socialist President in Nearly Two Decades

Socialist Party candidate for the presidential election Francois Hollande meets a resident with his companion Valerie Trierweiler, center, as he tours Tulle, after voting , May 6, 2012.
Socialist Party candidate for the presidential election Francois Hollande meets a resident with his companion Valerie Trierweiler, center, as he tours Tulle, after voting , May 6, 2012.
Lisa Bryant

Francois Hollande has been elected France's first Socialist president in nearly two decades, beating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in a vote marked by anger over austerity measures, high unemployment and the country's lagging economy.  Initial official results of Sunday's vote show Hollande winning with 52 percent of the vote.

Surveys predicted Francois Hollande would be the winner in the second-round runoff.  And the Socialist candidate and his supporters savored the victory.

Thousands of people gathered around the Socialist Party headquarters and the Place de la Bastille in Paris, a historic site of the French Revolution, to celebrate Hollande's victory.  Crowds also packed Hollande's political home base of Tulle in central France, where the president-elect delivered his victory speech.

Photo Gallery

Hollande said Europe is watching France and he predicted that his victory would be celebrated in other European countries.  He said it signified that economic austerity is not the final word and that his message is one of growth and prosperity.

Turnout was high, with about 80 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots, higher than during the first round of voting in April.  The strength of the Socialist victory will be determined during France's legislative elections, next month.

In a speech to his supporters, a grim-looking President Nicolas Sarkozy wished Hollande well. Sarkozy said he did as much as he could to protect France from the economic crisis that continues to rock the 17-member eurozone, along with other European countries like Britain.

Some analysts say that Hollande's victory was almost accidental.  He has never held a ministerial post.  A year ago, many French widely expected another Socialist politician,  former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahnm, would be France's next president.  But Strauss-Kahn's political fortunes plummeted after he faced sexual assault charges in New York that were later dropped.

Hollande's call for more spending and economic growth has struck a chord with French voters like 44-year-old Emmanuel Biar, who is weary of France's economic problems and austerity measures under conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy. "I like his [i.e., Hollande's] ideas - immigration, economy - because he would do what he could do.  I don't know how far and because my heart is on the left wing," he said.

Many French also criticize Sarkozy for his flamboyant lifestyle and his perceived inability to fulfill political promises.

Hollande's message for growth has resonated across much of the eurozone, where economic austerity measures have sparked public protests in countries like Greece and Spain.

But financial markets and some European leaders are anxious about France's president-elect.  Critics reject Hollande's call for more government spending when France and other European economies are already deeply in debt.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jean-Marc
May 07, 2012 8:59 AM
This election was won on value issues. A majority of French voters have chosen tolerance, social justice and equality versus nationalism, anti-muslim prejudice and market fanatism. Whatever the limited economic options ahead, These good premises forebear change for the best.

by: Seth
May 07, 2012 8:02 AM
Good riddens to a charlattan. He was too busy cashing Ghaddafi checks and earning the Armenian vote, and forgot about the French. I hope he is impeached some day.

by: KAO TOMWEKADA PANAFEI
May 07, 2012 6:05 AM
Being elected is a good thing but another mission is to fulfilled his progrmme.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs