Nicolas Sarkozy’s French Lessons

The French presidential election was a triumph for voter participation and a defeat for extremists of the left and right. But Nicolas Sarkozy's victory underscores the fundamental changes that the French Socialist Party will have to accept if it is avoid entering a period of slow decline.

France has chosen – and it has chosen decisively. The next French president will be Nicolas Sarkozy, elected with 53.1% of the popular vote, with turnout, at 84.8%, the highest since 1981. This election is particularly rich in lessons.

France was said to be to be a country mired in apathy and increasingly uninterested in politics. For the last 20 years, the number of citizens who registered to vote had been declining and the number of registered voters who stayed home had been increasing. Among those who voted, the number who cast their votes for the parties of the extreme right or the extreme left – that is, parties unsuited for government – was steadily rising.

All this changed in the two rounds of this year’s election. The first lesson, then, is that France is re-politicizing. With voter turnout beating all European records, France’s new president will have unusually strong legitimacy.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/E7vzqBv;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.