PARIS – France has now conducted its ninth presidential election under direct universal suffrage. And, for the first time in 17 years, after three consecutive defeats, the left – embodied in the Socialist candidate, François Hollande – will return to Élysée Palace. Indeed, the first implication of this unquestionably significant election is that it confirms a return to stability.
France is the largest country in Europe to have so much trouble finding its balance. Its revolution in 1789 initiated a long period of profound instability, featuring two empires, three monarchies, and five republics. The French have gone through 13 constitutions in less than 200 years.