At exactly 8 PM Paris time, TV5 announced that the estimation were giving Sarkozy winning with 53% of the vote. Not a landslide by French standard but a very strong victory nevertheless, made even stronger by a strong participation. In fact, the record turnout of today makes this 53% much, much more significance than the fake landslide of 80% for Chirac 5 years ago. With a 53% share, a real share this time, Sarkozy will be able to effect and affect French policies more than what Chirac did with his trumped up and undeserved landslide.
Within two minute, as I type, Segolene Royal is giving a great concession speech. No useless waiting for a concession speech, Segolene Royal is a democrat, not a fake one as our local banana republic tyrannos. She is giving such a fast speech because she has already in mind future political and democratic battles.
Vive la démocratie!
Some quick analysis
I think that Segolene lost more because she was a feminist than a socialist. During the two rounds campaign she came across more as a woman pursuing her own cause rather than one trying to unify the French people around some common program. That perhaps was enough to convince the Extreme Right voter to go and vote against Le Pen indication NOT to vote. That also was counterproductive with the centrist voter much more concerned by national cohesion than individual ambition.
The high turnout is rather surprising. I mean, true, there is in general an increased turnout from the first to the second round vote, but this time the first round was already a record and for the second round Le Pen and Bayrou did not sponsor active voting. So we must conclude that the French voter is much more independently minded than what pols would like them to be. This is an excellent sign for the immediate future of France, for a revived democracy after the rather long doldrum of the long and boring Chirac years.
Sarkozy will not be hostage of the Front National. This party not only did not follow its historical leader orders, but it will also face now a difficult succession as that was Le Pen last political round: he is too old for aspiring to the presidency in 5 years from now. The internal struggle will neutralize the Front National and stop it from cashing any chips it might have thought Sarkozy owes them. Le Pen ill tempered orders voided such cashing in anyway....
The speeches of Royal and Sarkozy were very dignified and each one acknowledged the other side in rather generous term. This is, hopefully, the first real demonstration that a new generation of politicians has come to power and will change the habitual crispation that goes along French debates. It also goes for the Socialist party that is now faced with the dilemma of renewing itself, of looking toward the middle for its future or hoping that the 10% of the Radical Left is enough for it to return to power. Obviously, after tonight even if Royal gamble to seduce the center did not pay off as hoped for, it still did not fail: she got the maximum that she could have expected after the first round. I think she was right to try it. She might not have had a choice but she tried it earnestly, and clumsily perhaps, but she was right in trying that approach to the Bayrou center. The question is: will the socialist party take the brave new road pointed by Segolene Royal or will they turn away from her and dump her and her ideas. And risk a decade of opposition.
The very best news
However for me, the best news of the evening are the turnout and that the immigrant son of Jewish and Hungarian heritage is now the president elect of France. Note: I could replace the last part of the sentence for "and that a woman is now the president elect of France" with the same emotion and satisfaction. A society that has seemed for so long stuck, unable to continue its integration, with social and cultural problems growing constantly, has done the unthinkable, bringing to the forefront a woman and an immigrant son. And massively at that, with a stunning 86% turnout.
This bodes very well for France, a revitalized democracy, a passover from an elite generation unable to renew itself. When I compare this sudden and bright overture to the closing of the Venezuelan mind and spirit, our descent into the darkness, I can only delight in this new promise coming from France.