On Sunday, May 6, Francois Hollande became France’s new president with 51 percent of the votes. Nicolas Sarkozy, former president and candidate of the right-wing UMP party, received 48 percent.
Hollande brings the Socialist Party back to government after almost 18 years, becoming only the second left-wing president after Francois Mitterand was first elected in 1981.
“French people have made the choice of change by electing me as president of the Republic. I measure the honor and the task,” said Hollande in his first speech delivered in the city of Tulle, where he was mayor and president of the General Council since 2008.
After the results were made public, Sarkozy declared in his defeat speech that he is preparing to “become a French citizen among others.” In the meantime, thousands of people gathered in Paris to celebrate the Socialist victory while singing the national anthem.
When she found out the final results, Grace Loubassou, a student at Sciences-Politics in Paris, found it important to go down the streets of Paris and proudly wave her French flag.
“It is a historical moment in France. As a Black young woman, I couldn’t bear the stigmatization led by the previous president, Nicolas Sarkozy, toward all the minorities. In his campaign, Francois Hollande fought for the forgotten and essential principles of tolerance and fraternity.
“These are values that unite the divided French society. Hollande’s election is proof that the policies led by the previous governments for so long cannot fit anymore,” explained Loubassou.
With legislative elections scheduled to happen in two weeks, Loubassou added that nothing can be taken for granted yet. “We have to stay mobilized for the legislative elections,” she said.
In New York, a brunch was organized by the Socialist Party to gather French people to watch the results and comment on them. Corinne Narassiguin, a candidate to become a deputy representative for the French people of North America, attended the event. In an interview with the Amsterdam News staff, she declared, “This is a historical moment for the Socialist Party, since so far we only had one president from this party.”
When asked to explain Hollande’s victory and the swing of France to the left, Narassiguin said, “It was deplorable to see how after the results of the first ballot, Nicolas Sarkozy took other directions in his campaign, focusing it on the stigmatization of immigrants just to attract the voters of the National Front. On the contrary, Francois Hollande stayed on his positions, reaffirming his propositions concerning purchasing power, unemployment, education, etc.”
Although, French New Yorkers voted less for Sarkozy than in the previous election in 2007, Narassiguin deplores that 62 percent of them voted for him in this election.
Hollande will attend the G8 summit at Camp David in two weeks.