Socialist Francois Hollande defeated conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday to become France's next president, heralding a change in how Europe tackles its debt crisis and how France flexes its military and diplomatic muscle around the world.
French president-elect Francois Hollande waves to crowds gathered to celebrate his election victory in Bastille Square in Paris, France, Sunday. (AP-Yonhap News)
Exuberant, diverse crowds filled the Place de la Bastille, the iconic plaza of the French Revolution, to fete Hollande's victory, waving French, European and labor union flags and climbing the column that rises at its center. Leftists are overjoyed to have one of their own in power for the first time since Socialist Francois Mitterrand was president from 1981 to 1995.
“Austerity can no longer be inevitable!” Hollande declared in his victory speech Sunday night after a surprising campaign that saw him transform from an unremarkable, mild figure to an increasingly statesmanlike one.
Sarkozy is the latest victim of a wave of voter anger at government spending cuts around Europe that have tossed out governments and leaders over the past couple of years.
In Greece, a parliamentary vote Sunday is seen as critical to the country's prospects for pulling out of a deep financial crisis felt in world markets. A state election in Germany and local elections in Italy were seen as tests of support for the national government's policies.
Hollande promised help for France's downtrodden after years under the Sarkozy, a man many voters saw as too friendly with the rich and blamed for economic troubles.
Hollande said European partners should be relieved and not frightened by his presidency.
“I am proud to have been capable of giving people hope again,” Hollande told huge crowds of supporters in his electoral fiefdom of Tulle in central France. “We will succeed!”
Hollande inherits an economy that's a driver of the European Union but is deep in debt. He wants more government stimulus, and more government spending in general, despite concerns in the markets that France needs to urgently trim its huge debt.
Sarkozy conceded defeat minutes after the polls closed, saying he had called Hollande to wish him “good luck” as the country's new leader.
Sarkozy, widely disliked for budget cuts and his handling of the economy during recent crises, said he did his best to win a second term, despite widespread anger at his handling of the economy.
“I bear responsibility ... for the defeat,” he said. “I committed myself totally, fully, but I didn't succeed in convincing a majority of French. ... I didn't succeed in making the values we share win.”
With 75 percent of the vote counted, official results showed Hollande with 51.1 percent of the vote compared with Sarkozy's 48.9 percent, the Interior Ministry said. The CSA, TNS-Sofres and Ipsos polling agencies all predicted a Hollande win as well.
Hollande has virtually no foreign policy experience but he will face his first tests right after his inauguration, which must happen no later than May 16.
Among his first trips will be to the United States later this month for summits of NATO _ where he will announce he is pulling French troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year _ and the Group of Eight leading world economies.
Hollande's first challenge will be dealing with Germany: He wants to re-negotiate a hard-won European treaty on budget cuts that Germany's Angela Merkel and Sarkozy had championed. He promises to make his first foreign trip to Berlin to work on a relationship that has been at the heart of Europe's postwar unity.
Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, congratulated Hollande on Sunday night and said both countries will keep on cooperating closely in driving the European Union's policies and be “a stabilizing factor and a motor for the European Union.”
At home, Hollande intends to modify one of Sarkozy's key reforms, over the retirement age, to allow some people to retire at 60 instead of 62. He also plans to increase spending in a range of sectors and wants to ease France off its dependence on nuclear energy. He favors legalizing euthanasia and gay marriage.
Sarkozy supporters call those proposals misguided.
“We're going to call France the new Greece,” said Laetitia Barone, 19. “Hollande is now very dangerous.”
Sarkozy had said he would quit politics if he lost, but was vague about his plans Sunday night.
“You can count on me to defend these ideas, convictions,” he said, “but my place cannot be the same.”
His political allies turned their attention to parliamentary elections next month.
People of all ages and different ethnicities celebrated Hollande's victory at the Bastille. Ghylaine Lambrecht, 60, who celebrated the 1981 victory of Mitterrand at the Bastille, was among them.
“I'm so happy. We had to put up with Sarko for 10 years,” she said referring to Sarkozy's time as interior and finance minister and five years as president. “In the last few years the rich have been getting richer. Now long live France, an open democratic France.”
“It's magic!” said Violaine Chenais, 19. “I think Francois Hollande is not perfect, but it's clear France thinks its time to give the left a chance. This means real hope for France. We're going to celebrate with drink and hopefully some dancing.” (AP)
<관련 한글 기사>
프랑스 17년 만에 좌파 대통령 탄생
프랑스에 17년 만에 좌파 정권이 들어서게 됐 다.
사회당의 프랑수아 올랑드 후보는 6일 밤(현지시간) 종료된 대선 결선투표에서 집권당 대중운동연합(UMP) 후보 니콜라 사르코지 대통령을 누르고 대통령에 당선됐다고 TF1 TV 등 현지 언론이 보도했다.
내무부는 이날 오후 9시30분 현재 72.35%를 개표한 결과, 올랑드 후보가 51.1%를 득표했으며 사르코지 대통령은 48.9%를 기록한 것으로 집계됐다고 밝혔다.
이날 투표율은 약 80.8%로, 1차투표 때의 79.48%보다는 높았지만 2007년 대선 투표율 83.97%보다는 낮았다.
올랑드는 당선이 사실상 확정되자 고향 튈에서 환호하는 군중에게 "오늘 프랑스 는 저를 대통령궁으로 보내는 변화를 선택했다"면서 국민에게 다시 희망을 줄 수 있 게 된 것에 대해 감사한다는 인사를 전한 뒤, 국가를 단결시키는 지도자가 되겠으며 모든 국민의 대통령이 될 것이라고 밝혔다.
경제성장과 채무감축을 최우선정책이라고 밝힌 올랑드는 "더 이상 긴축정책이 (경제위기를 해소하는) 유일한 방안이어서는 안된다"고 강조하고 유럽 파트너들도 자 신의 당선에 놀라지 말고 안도하라고 당부했다.
사르코지 대통령은 투표 종료 20분 만에 올랑드 후보에게 전화를 걸어 "국가의 새로운 지도자로서 행운을 빈다"고 축하인사를 건넸다고 밝히면서 패배를 시인했다.
사르코지는 지지자들에게 감사를 전하면서 "패배의 책임을 지겠다"고 말했으나 "여러분 곁에 머물겠으며 나의 직책이 더 이상 똑같지 않을 것"이라고 밝혀 정계 은 퇴는 하지 않을 방침임을 시사했다.
사르코지 대통령은 또 6월 총선이 중요하다면서 대중운동연합의 단합을 당부했지만 자신이 직접 총선을 지휘하지는 않겠다는 입장을 밝혔다고 당 중진들이 전했다.
귀도 베스터벨레 독일 외무장관은 올랑드의 당선을 축하하면서 양국이 유럽연합(EU) 정책을 추진하는데 긴밀히 협력할 것임을 천명했다.
올랑드는 오는 16일 이전에 1차 내각을 발표하고 취임할 것으로 예상된다.
이날 사회당 지지자들은 밤늦도록 파리 7구 당사 주변에 몰려 승리를 만끽했으며 좌파들의 집결 장소인 바스티유 광장에 운집해 올랑드의 당선을 축하했다.
올랑드의 고향인 튈 지방에도 언론이 공식 출구조사 결과를 발표하기도 전에 수 많은 지지자들이 소문을 듣고 몰려들어 기쁨을 나눴다.
이에 앞서 프랑스 여론조사기관들은 투표 종료 직후 올랑드 후보가 52-53%의 득 표율로 사르코지 대통령을 누르고 승리할 것으로 예측됐다고 일제히 보도했다.