Sarkozy at Dusk

PARIS – And the next French President will be…the Socialist Party’s candidate François Hollande. A month ago, any prediction uttered with such certainty would have sounded imprudent, if not foolish. Uncertainty prevailed. Four candidates dominated the competition, and no one would have dared to predict which two will make it to the second-round run-off. Indeed, the race looked more open than ever in recent memory.

Suddenly, something happened – not an event in itself (though it started with Hollande’s first great public rally in mid-January), but rather something that may resemble an irresistible process that can be summarized as follows: a majority of the French want to punish a president who has fallen from their graces.