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