French Election Update : Hollande defeated Sarkozy

In a final verdict to the french elections, Francois Hollande defeated French President Nicolas Sarkozy as country favored socialist ruled government for the first time in 17 years.
Francois Hollande

The 57-year-old Hollande got about 52 percent against about 48 percent for Sarkozy, according to estimates by pollsters CSA and Harris Interactive. The campaign isn’t over; France elects its lower house of parliament in five weeks.

French Socialist Party leader and presidential candidate Francois Hollande, right, greets people as he leaves the polling station during the second round of presidential election in Tulle, southwestern France.

The challenger inherits an economy that is barely growing, with jobless claims at their highest in 12 years and a rising debt load that makes France vulnerable to the financial crisis that has rocked the euro region the past two years. Sarkozy became the ninth euro leader to fall in that time and the first French president in 30 years to fail to win re-election.

“Hollande’s bet was that rejection of Nicolas Sarkozy was enough to get him elected,” Dominique Reynie, senior researcher at Paris’s Institute of Political Studies, said before the vote. “The message was that if you don’t like Sarkozy then I’m your best bet.”

Sarkozy’s departure may sharpen tensions with key allies as Hollande has advocated a more aggressive European Central Bank role in spurring growth -- a measure opposed by Germany -- and an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan.

While Socialists stand ready to dominate policy making for the first time since 1993 -- holding both the presidency and the Cabinet -- bond yields suggest Hollande may maintain market confidence. Ten-year French debt yields 124 basis points more than comparable German securities. That’s down from 145 basis points after he won the first round April 22 and lower than the 133 basis points at the start of the year.
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