Home / International / Opinion Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Sarkozy Election Turns New Page in French Politics
Adjust font size:

Nicolas Sarkozy's Sunday victory in the French presidential run-off has ushered in a new page in French politics as the president-elect has vowed to work along with all the French people to realize all the changes and reforms they are hoping for.

Sarkozy, representing the ruling right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), won the presidential race with over 53 percent of the vote, according to the results released by the Interior Ministry. Royal, of the left-wing Socialist Party, got some 47 percent.

Energetic and aggressive, Sarkozy, 52, will replace retiring Jacques Chirac, who is 22 years his senior, around May 17.

Sarkozy has promised to restore "the pride of being French" and revive the French economy, yet he is faced with a difficult task to fulfill that pledge. 

Economic policies are decisive factor

Sarkozy's economic polices, which experts say are more reliable and pragmatic than those of Royal, have been the decisive factor in the race.

During the campaigning, Sarkozy has promised labor market flexibility, strict controls on immigration, and called for a return to French traditional values, winning the hearts of right-wing voters, and even parts of ultra right voters.

He advocated a policy of "more pay for more work," garnering support from the low-income class. Without scrapping the 35-hour week, he would allow employers to boost overtime pay by 25 percent, with the extra hours exempt from taxes and social charges.

He has proposed a series of tax cuts, which totals €15 billion  (about US$16.8 billion) at the start of his term as well as a reduction in income tax and social charges -- worth €70 billion (about US$78 billion) -- over a two-term presidency.

Furthermore, Sarkozy has vowed to bring down the unemployment rate from the current 8.3 percent to below 5 percent.

In Royal's case, although she enjoyed the backing of left-wing voters, ambiguity surrounding her policies failed her in the quest to become the country's first female head of state.

She had promised to extend the country's welfare system and consolidate the reduced 35-hour working week, as well as tackle youth unemployment, pledging to create 500,000 jobs for the young French whose jobless rate is more than twice the national average.

While Sarkozy remains consistent on his policies and guidelines, Royal spent much time after the first round vote in wooing support from the centrist groups, who viewed her policies as lackluster and unattractive.

She managed to receive support from Francois Bayrou, a centrist politician who took third place in the April 22 first round vote, but he had declined to call on his supporters to switch their support to her on May 6.

In the final stages of official campaigning, Royal launched strong attacks on Sarkozy, including a personal attack on him. She warned of violence and brutality in the event of Sarkozy winning, which was rebuked by Sarkozy as "the negation of basic democratic rules" and a desperate move to woo supporters.

The unusual moves did not help as she failed to muster strong support from the centrist groups.

It is undoubtedly a convincing victory for Sarkozy as he has led throughout this year's presidential race.

Arduous task ahead

The biggest challenges confronting Sarkozy are a sluggish economy and prickly domestic issues.

Over the past several years, France has failed to reduce the high government budget deficit and the accumulation of huge debts,and has been hit by a sluggish economy and high unemployment rate, which have caused outrage from the public toward the government.

Sarkozy has put forward a basket of proposals to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment, but whether they will work remains uncertain.

He has also advocated strengthening state authority, restoring France's traditional social values, tightening control on immigrants and improving security by forceful means.

On the eye-catching issue of European construction, Sarkozy has to heal the wounds left over from a French rejection of the European Union (EU) treaty in a 2005 referendum.

In his victory speech delivered Sunday, he made it clear that "today, France is back in Europe," indicating his ambition to bring France closer to the EU. "I urge our European partners to hear the voice of the French people who wish to be protected," he said.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, how the Sarkozy-ruled France will perform on major international issues remains an interesting issue as the rest of the world awaits the announcement of Sarkozy's foreign policies.

And there is also a big question mark hanging over how Sarkozy will narrow the gap between left and right in a very divided society.

"I must be president of all the French people and must speak on behalf of all the French," Sarkozy told thousands of jubilant supporters at his party headquarters on Sunday, seeking support from those who had not voted for him.

"Together we are going to write a new page of history. The page, I am sure, will be great and beautiful," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2007)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Sarkozy Gets the Backing of President
- French Want Change, up to a Point
- Sarkozy, Royal to Face Off for French Presidency
- Sego or Sarko? It's a Left-Right Duel
- Poll: Sarkozy to Win French Presidential Elections Run-off
- Hu Extends Congratulations to French President-Elect Sarkozy
Most Viewed >>
> Korean Nuclear Talks
> Reconstruction of Iraq
> Middle East Peace Process
> Iran Nuclear Issue
> 6th SCO Summit Meeting
- China Development Gateway
- Foreign Ministry
- Network of East Asian Think-Tanks
- China-EU Association
- China-Africa Business Council
- China Foreign Affairs University
- University of International Relations
- Institute of World Economics & Politics
- Institute of Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies
- Institute of West Asian & African Studies
- Institute of Latin American Studies
- Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies
- Institute of Japanese Studies