François Hollande has won the French Presidential elections, and now we can ask, what next? The fact that he won wasn’t very surprising. Even if you had only tuned into french politics a few months ago, you would have realised how much the French disliked Sarkozy and wanted him out. Therefore, when presented with the option of either him again or someone else, they naturally chose someone else.
It would seem that for most people, their vote wasn’t really in support of Hollande, but mostly against Sarkozy. This strikes me as a sad choice to be made, though I understand that in a certain way the french had no other option. Perhaps this is the most saddening fact.
As a student of politics, I have long considered myself as someone who is “passionate” about the topic and at the very least interested in most political happenings. Not only that, but the French Presidential Elections are what motivated me to study politics originally.
So why is it that recently, I have found myself wondering whether I have become apathetic and disinterested by politics? I find this a sad observation to make. Perhaps it is because I am suddenly noticing what I once read in my textbooks: things are always the same! The latest French Presidential elections failed to inspire in me much else than anger or frustration. I feel thoroughly sick and tired of the endless Left vs. Right debate and the never ending power struggle between both sides/the biggest parties on each side, making me wonder when some other fresh new party with bright and credible ideas might arrive on the political scene…
Really, the sad fact about these elections is that France was once again presented of the choice between Left and Right, the Parti Socialiste and the UMP. How many times have we seen this scenario before? Too many! UMP may have changed its name over the years, nonetheless it still remains the biggest party on the right, vestige of De Gaulle, and the PS remains true to itself. Even before the second round of voting where only 2 choices were presented, we still saw the same faces we have been seeing for years: Marine Le Pen instead of her father, François Bayrou who gets credit for trying but sadly not much else, and many other small candidates here and there whose resilience I am impressed by. Surely they know they will never make it, and yet they keep on trying.
Though it is important not to forget that the French are lucky to have free and fair elections (unlike what is happening in a lot of places including Russia at the moment), this doesn’t mean that their political system offers the right choices to them. But beyond the political system, we must start to ask ourselves what exactly Hollande’s victory means, and what impact it will have on the rest of Europe. Though many people salute his anti-austerity stance and willingness to stop the Merkozy show, it could very well be the downfall of the Euro. As The Economist points out, though he is right in some ways, he is doing it for the wrong reasons. France and the french are incredibly against change, even if it would be better for them.
They want to continue living in glorious France, strong nation, player on the scene of international politics and of great influence within the EU. What they don’t realise in that in order to attain those goals even a little, they need to start adapting and living within their time. Hollande has embraced their desire for no change and is trying to convince them “it will all be alright”. But just as when we say those words knowing it might not be, it may very well not be for France either… With Greece on the brink of electing an anti-austerity government, it might very well see itself having to exit the Euro-zone and act as the small snowball to one huge avalanche that could bury all other countries in the Eurozone.
Hollande will need to learn and act fast, in order to stop the Avalanche before it gathers too much speed. As Sarkozy said to him during the televised debate, he can’t just show up in a suit and hope things will work themselves out. He will need to prove that he can be a good president and manage to bring change to France, without being as clumsy and self-involved as Sarkozy was. Here’s to hope, and regaining my faith in politics!