Sarko v Sego At Last

The surprise in the first round of the French presidential election was that there was no surprise, except for the huge level of voter turnout. The two leaders of the Right and of the Left, the favorites in all the polls for a long time, came first and second.

Four winners and one clear loser emerged from the first round. The first winner is democracy. For the first time in my lifetime, as I went to vote on Sunday with my children - in a peaceful celebration of that secular religion that is democracy when it works well - I had to wait in line patiently for a relatively long time. For 85% of the electorate went to vote in what has been the highest level of participation in presidential elections in France since Charles de Gaulle last ran for president in1965.

The lesson of the first ballot of 2002, which saw a high level of abstention and the surprise elimination of the Socialist Lionel Jospin, partly explains that mobilization. Also, with the emergence of a new generation of political leaders, the French -- who were thought cynical towards politics -- seem to have regained their unique passion for it.

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