Could François Fillon have won Sunday’s French presidential election?

When I look at the final tally of votes in Sunday’s French presidential election — François Hollande took nearly 52% of the vote against incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy’s 48% — I cannot help but note that the margin is actually lower than in 2007, when Sarkozy beat Ségolène Royal with 53% of the vote.

It’s quite stunning — an election that was supposed to be a landslide for Hollande, in which every poll showed him beating Sarkozy by anywhere from five points to double digits, turned out to be closer than the Sarkozy-Royal race.

So when I look at that — and when you look at exit poll data showing that many Hollande voters were motivated not by Hollande, but rather by the desire to give Sarkozy the boot, I really wonder what would have happened if Sarkozy had stepped down from the presidency in favor of his longtime prime minister François Fillon. Continue reading Could François Fillon have won Sunday’s French presidential election?

Three elections — and three defeats — for EU-wide austerity

The concept of a ‘democratic deficit’ has long plagued the European Union — the EU’s history is littered with grand, transformative schemes planned by EU leaders that voters have ultimately rejected as too sweeping.  As recently as 2005, French and Dutch voters rejected the proposed EU constitution, smacking the EU elite for getting out too far in front of an electorate that clearly did not approve.

Sure enough, the story of the last three days — in the UK, in France and in Greece — will go down in EU history as a similar pivot point against German chancellor Angela Merkel’s attempt to impose strict fiscal discipline across the continent, even as additional electoral hiccups await in the North-Rhine Westphalia state elections later this week, the Irish referendum on the fiscal compact later this month and French and Dutch parliamentary elections due later this summer.

French president-elect François Hollande will now immediately become the face of the EU-wide opposition to austerity and is expected to challenge Merkel with a view that advocates more aggressive spending in a bid to balance fiscal responsibility with the promotion of economic growth — a distinct change in Franco-German relations after the ‘Merkozy’ years.  In his victory speech, Hollande called for a ‘fresh start for Europe’ and laid down his gauntlet: ‘austerity need not be Europe’s fate.’

It is an incredible turnaround from December, when Merkel and deposed French president Nicolas Sarkozy single-handedly pushed through the fiscal compact adopted by each of the EU member states (minus the UK and the Czech Republic), which would bind each member state to a budget deficit of no more than just 0.5% of GDP.  The treaty followed in the wake of the latest eurozone financial crisis last November, during which both the governments of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy and Georgios Papandreou in Greece fell, to be replaced by Berlin-approved technocratic governments, each tasked with the express purpose of making reforms to cut their governments’ respective budgets.

Continue reading Three elections — and three defeats — for EU-wide austerity

Greek election results: New Democracy leads, far-left SYRIZA in second, PASOK in third

As French voters celebrate the election of a new president in leftist François Hollande, Greek voters returned a muddier verdict in its own election on Sunday, with returns that show the most fragmented Greek electorate in Greece’s postwar history, as voters have abandoned both of Greece’s two major parties, in a rebuke of the bailout that has resulted in savage budget cuts and a fiercely depressed economy.

As of 11 p.m. Greek time, with 40.53% of the votes tallied, the results are as follows:

The center-right New Democracy (Νέα Δημοκρατία) has won 20.29% of the vote, and will take an estimated 112 seats in the Hellenic parliament. New Democracy had been predicted to take the largest share of the vote, which results in an automatic “bonus” of 50 seats — the remaining 250 seats are apportioned to all parties (with over 3% support) on the basis of proportional representation.

The far-left SYRIZA (the Coalition of the Radical Left — Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς) has won 15.86% of the vote, and will take 49 seats.  SYRIZA has done better than expected, pushing the center-left PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement — Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα) into third place with just 13.98%, with a predicted 43 seats.

The anti-austerity center-right Independent Greeks, a splinter group from New Democracy, has won 10.37%, with predicted 32 seats.  KKE (the Greek Communist Party) has won 8.33%, with 25 predicted seats.  The fascist, nationalistic right Golden Dawn party has won 6.85% and will enter parliament with 21 seats, the first time it will be represented in parliament since 1974.

The far-left Democratic Left, itself a splinter group of SYRIZA, has won just 5.99% and is projected to win 18 seats.

With just 2.89%, the populist Orthodox LAOS appeared to have fallen short of the 3% threshold for representation in Greece’s parliament.  The same fate appeared to be in store for the Ecologist Greens, which took just 2.81%.

So what does all of this mean for Greece going forward? Continue reading Greek election results: New Democracy leads, far-left SYRIZA in second, PASOK in third

Hollande wins French presidential election

François Hollande has been elected the president of France — the first such victory for a Parti socialiste candidate — or any center-left candidate in France — since François Mitterand’s reelection in 1988. 

Exit polls show that Hollande has defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy with a vote of 52% to Sarkozy’s 48%.  If true, it would indicate that the race was quite tighter than nearly all prior polls had shown in the preceding months, which had shown a steady second-round lead of between five and 10 points for Hollande.  Indeed, it would be a tighter margin than Sarkozy’s own five-point victory over Parti socialiste candidate Ségolène Royal in 2007.

Of course, with parliamentary elections due in June, and with the future of the eurozone still in some doubt, Hollande’s victory was never the key question — those will be just be starting to be asked and the answers will only begin to clarify over the months ahead.

Follow Suffragio’s prior coverage of the French presidential election here.