Sarkozy, a pro-American
conservative won the election
Foxnews, Paris, Monday, may 7, 2007. — French president-elect Nicolas
Sarkozy plans to waste no time pushing through a weighty package of
pro-market, anti-crime reforms — but the first battle is winning a
majority in parliament in new elections next month.
Police reported that 270 people
were taken in for questioning and that 367 parked vehicles had been
torched. On a typical night in France, about 100 cars are burned.
Sarkozy, a pro-American conservative and an immigrant's son, defeated
Socialist Segolene Royal by 53.06 percent to 46.94 percent with an 85
percent voter turnout, according to final results released early Monday.
The win gave Sarkozy a strong mandate for his vision of France's future:
He wants to free up labor markets, calls France's 35-hour work week
"absurd" and plans tougher measures on crime and immigration.
"The people of France have chosen change," Sarkozy told cheering
supporters in a victory speech that sketched out a stronger global role
for France and renewed partnership with the United States.
Exit polls offered some surprises. Some 49 percent of blue-collar
workers — traditionally leftist voters — chose Sarkozy, according to an
Ipsos/Dell poll. Some 32 percent of people who usually vote for the
Greens and 14 percent who normally support the far-left also went with
Sarkozy. The poll surveyed 3,609 voters and had a margin of error of
about 2 percent.
A headline Monday in Les Echos newspaper, a financial daily, read:
"President Sarkozy: a wide majority for reforming the country in depth."
Still, his task will not be easy. Sarkozy is certain to face resistance
from powerful unions to his plans to make the French work more and make
it easier for companies to hire and fire.
Sarkozy planned to stay out of the public eye for a few days, said
Francois Fillon, an adviser often cited as a candidate for prime
minister. Sarkozy "will retire to somewhere in France to unwind a little
... and to start organizing and preparing his teams," Fillon told TF1
The new president plans to take over power from outgoing leader Jacques
Chirac on May 16. Fillon said Sarkozy's new government would be
installed May 19 or 20.
The election left little time for celebrating: Legislative elections are
slated for June 10 and 17, and Sarkozy's conservative UMP party needs a
majority to keep his mandate for reforms. A win by the left would bring
"cohabitation" — an awkward power-sharing with a leftist prime minister
— which would put a stop to his plans.
Sarkozy, 52, has drawn up a whirlwind agenda for his first 100 days in
office and plans to put big reforms before parliament at an
extraordinary session in July. One bill would make overtime pay tax-free
to encourage people to work more. Another would put in place tougher
sentencing for repeat offenders, and still another would toughen up the
criteria for immigrants trying to bring their families to France.
On election night, scattered violence was reported around France. There
had been fears that the impoverished suburban housing projects, home to
Arab and African immigrants and their French-born children, would erupt
again at the victory of a man who labeled those responsible for rioting
in 2005 as "scum." Police reported that 270 people were taken in for
questioning and that 367 parked vehicles had been torched. On a typical
night in France, about 100 cars are burned.
That abrasive style raised doubts over whether Sarkozy, himself the son
of a Hungarian refugee, could unite a politically polarized,
increasingly diverse nation.
Late Sunday, small bands of youths hurled stones and other objects at
police at the Place de la Bastille in Paris. Some bared their backsides
at riot officers behind their shields, and police fired volleys of tear
gas. Two police unions said firebombs targeted schools and recreation
centers in several towns in the Essonne region just south of Paris.
In Sarkozy's victory speech, he reached out to those he has alienated in
the past, promising to be president "of all the French, without
The White House said President Bush had called to congratulate Sarkozy,
who is largely untested in foreign policy but reached out to the United
States in his victory speech, an indication of his desire to break from
the trans-Atlantic tension of the Chirac era.
Sarkozy also made it clear that France would remain an independent
The United States, he declared, can "count on our friendship," but he
added that "friendship means accepting that friends can have different
He urged the United States to take the lead on climate change and said
the issue would be a priority for France.
"A great nation, like the United States, has a duty not to block the
battle against global warming but — on the contrary — to take the lead
in this battle, because the fate of the whole of humanity is at stake,"
In some European capitals, Sarkozy's victory inspired hope that he might
lend a decisive hand to efforts to salvage the European Union's hopes of
greater integration, largely on hold since French and Dutch voters
rejected a proposed EU constitution in 2005.
The hand-over of power ushers in a president from a new generation, who
has no memory of World War II and waged the country's first high-octane
Royal would have been France's first female president. Her defeat could
throw her party into disarray, with splits between those who say it must
remain firm to its leftist traditions and others who want a shift to the
political center like socialist parties elsewhere in Europe.
Following the defeat, high-ranking Socialist Bernard Kouchner, the
former health minister who co-founded Doctors Without Borders,
immediately called for the party to stop courting the far-left and ally
the center. "We have to change our formatting, our ways of thinking, on
the left," he told TF1.