It’s important not to get carried away. This is, after all, only the first round of the French Presidential elections. The second round is scheduled to take place on May 6th. President Nicolas Sarkozy could well pull things back before then.
However, all the indicators are that this will not happen. In addition to winning the first round, the socialist candidate Mr Francois Hollande is now eight percent ahead of the President in the opinion polls. There are very real grounds for thinking 2012 could go down as an historic election year akin to Francois Mitterrand’s victory in 1981 (the last time a sitting president, Valery Giscard D’Estaing, was defeated), Tony Blair’s landslide win in Britain in 1997 or Zapatero’s victory in Spain in 2004, or Barack Obama’s election to the US presidency in 2008. Such a victory would represent a clear endorsement of Hollande’s brand of socialism and a clear repudiation of President Sarkozy’s failed conservative policies.
There is a downside to the result: Marine Le Pen of the odious National Front scored unusually well winning nearly one in five of the votes cast. Happily, under the French electoral system, all candidates other than President Sarkozy and Mr Hollande are now eliminated from the contest.
Mr Hollande’s victory should send out a warning signal to all failing right wing governments in Europe and elsewhere.