Monday, May 7, 2012

Au Revoir, Sarkozy: François Hollande Is New French President

France will have a new President, as the country elected François Hollande as the nation's new head of state, ousting Nicolas Sarkozy from the presidency after serving only one term. 

In a widely-expected result, Socialist candidate François Hollande unseated Conservative incumbent Sarkozy, winning 51.9 percent of the votes to Sarkozy's 48.1 percent. Sarkozy is the first French president since 1981 not to win a second term of office, while Hollande is the first Socialist president since François Mitterand, who was president from 1981 until 1995.

Boisterous crowds gathered at Paris' famed Place de la Bastille, the iconic plaza where the French Revolution began in 1789, to celebrate Hollande's victory. Many French see Hollande's victory as a new beginning for the nation, which has been battling toughening austerity measures and a weakened economy resulting from the Euro crisis, which has nearly seen Greece and Spain default on their national debts.

Hollande has called for a renegotiation of a European treaty on budget discipline that was championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sarkozy only last year. Sarkozy thanked his supporters during his exit speech, stating "I take responsibility ... for the defeat". He will hand over power to Hollande on May 15, following talks between the two camps. At that time, Sarkozy, his wife, former model and pop singer Carla Bruni and their infant daughter Giulia, will leave Élysée Palace, the official residence of the French President.

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