Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sarkozy beats Royal

By Michael J.W. Stickings

(Updated below.)

Alas.

The BBC is reporting that Sarkozy has beaten Royal by about 53% to 47%. Turnout is estimated to have been an astonishing 85.5%, a clear indication that this election mattered to voters -- and that there were important issues being discussed, that the leading candidates were presenting compelling alternative platforms, that the candidates themselves were strong, and that the election itself was competitive.

I have made my opinions known in several previous posts on the election-- see here, for example. As many of you know, I was pulling for Royal, hoping that support from Bayrou's centrist supporters would put her over the top. Polls conducted in the last few days before the election, however, had Sarkozy up by four to ten points, suggesting that there was no such Bayrou-based boost for Royal. Indeed, both those poll results and today's election results are consistent with poll results for a Sarkozy-Royal second round from before the first round. Although a couple of those earlier polls had them at about 50/50, most had Sarkozy up by two to eight points.

I'll have more later, but check back with the BBC for updates.

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UPDATE 1: For more coverage of the election, see CNN, WaPo, and Bloomberg.

From Sarkozy's victory speech, on the U.S.: "I'd like to appeal to our American friends to say that they can count on our friendship. But I would also like to say that friendship means accepting that your friends don't necessarily see eye to eye with you."

And on the climate crisis -- and here I agree with him completely: "[A] great nation like the United States has the duty not to oppose the fight against global warming, but to lead that battle, because what is at stake is the destiny of mankind."

For more on Sarkozy's speech, see the IHT.

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UPDATE 2: From The Guardian: Sarkozy said that "[t]onight is not the victory of one France over another"; however: "as he talked, there were reports of car-burnings in the suburbs and trouble flaring in Lyon, with police firing flashballs after skirmishes between leftwing activists and Sarkozy supporters."

More: "His victory by 53% to 47% of the vote was the third consecutive presidential defeat for the Socialist party, which within moments of the first results had already begun tearing itself apart, even though it faces parliamentary elections within a month... However, Ms Royal showed no signs of stepping aside and vowed to stick it out and rally the battered party."

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UPDATE 3: At the NYT, Craig Smith says that though both Sarkozy and Royal "promised to remake France," there likely won't be any "breaking with the past": "The French are notoriously resistant to change, and any new president would be hard-pressed to deliver any dramatic departure from the way people here live and work and get along with each other (or don’t)." Why is that?

-- "First, life in France is, on the whole, plenty comfortable. The French flirt with the idea of change, but few in the mainstream want to risk losing France's 'exceptionalism' -- that warm bed of traditions and entitlements that lets so many enjoy the benefits of living here."

-- "Second, there is something about the French that resists a change, even in times of trouble. Historians famously trace it to the Enlightenment, when France developed a republican model based on the collective will. By contrast, republican models in Britain and America stressed the primacy of economics and individualism -- what the French still, with a shudder, call liberalism."

So look for reform, but not revolution. The French have come a long way since 1789. And 1830. And 1848. And... Well:

Plus ça change, you know?

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