PARIS – This spring, “the people of the Left” emerged from the dark clouds and
are now in Seventh Heaven following the victory of their candidate François
Hollande on Sunday night.
On Monday the title “The Norm,” on the front
page of the daily paper Liberation, was a dual reference: An admiring yet
critical description of the man from Corrèze – a region in central France. He is
considered to be “a simple rural man” as opposed to the Impetuous Nicolas
Sarkozy, as the title of the latest biography written by Catherine Nay describes
Hollande was viewed as the normal candidate for the presidential
election, or “the honest man,” an expression used on TV on Sunday
The implication lasted throughout the whole campaign and in the
end helped Sarkozy’s opposing candidates.
Dominique Strauss-Khan, who
possesses stamina and political savvy, may have beaten Hollande in the primary
if not for his criminal allegations in New York.
Out of nowhere, the
“apparatchik” from the Socialist Party appears – the one described as
“spineless,” a wet rag, before the first round of the elections. He then
defeated Super-Sarko, the unpopular outgoing president.
revenge of the “normal” candidate; a push from destiny” wrote the daily paper Le
Hollande’s left-wing political philosophy may surprise those
acquainted with his biography, as his father affiliates with the
Some speculate that Hollande won not due to merit but as the
lesser of two evils.
The Socialist Party has won the presidential
elections twice since 1954: François Mitterrand in 1981 and his reelection in
1988. The Left held a majority in the assembly until 2002.
now hope to achieve a parliamentary majority during legislative elections
scheduled for June 10th and 17th. A victory in the upcoming poll would provide a
strong mandate for the party.
But many French consider the presidential
election as “the mother” of all voting since it is the structure around which
According to political pundit Roland Cayrol, “when a
party loses the main election, their voters stop fighting and do not go to the
Laurent Fabius, former Socialist prime minister and a
frontrunner for the Foreign Ministry portfolio, compared the present situation
“There are lots of analogies,” Fabius said. “We will remember
May 6, 2012 as long as we have remembered May 10, 1981. It is such a long time,
far too long. We expected this victory.”
Jack Lang, another former
Socialist minister waxed poetic.
“The first time is like love, it is the
first time. At the same time, the first time does not make sense if there isn’t
a second time. It’s going to be a night of delight,” Lang said.
left-leaning politicians and activists anticipated the victory and used the day
as an excuse to celebrate in the streets.
As a correspondent, I’m used to
vast Parisian rallies – demonstrations with overflowing crowds between the
Republique Metro station and La Nation Metro station. I saw many rallies during
the campaign at la Concorde, at Trocadero, at Vincennes.
Hollande’s hometown, revelers played “la Vie en Rose” by Edith Piaf and quoted
the lyrics, as ‘the night of a rosy glow of satisfaction.”
shouted to him, demanding “a kiss, a kiss,” as he stood alongside his companion
Also last night, hundreds of thousands crowded into
Place de la Bastille to celebrate and initiate a new chapter for French
The French people are suffering, affected by the economic
crisis. Expectations sounded grandiose, almost unrealistic.
Later at La
Bastille, Hollande said, “I am the president of the youth of France. You are
more than a nation who has chosen a change; you are also a trend of opinion
rising in Europe and maybe in the world.”
For most, the party occurred at
home, with family or friends for a dinner of “soirée electorale.” I attended
two, one for a Sunday afternoon “goûter,” the other, a proper “soirée,” with
gourmet food, champagne and expensive red wine.
At the “goûter” I
visited, guests spoke freely, in an animated manner. One friend shouted, “we
will get rid of Sarko!” Another colleague folded herself in a red flag before
leaving to vote. “Hollande is the least bad,” she said.
Two others walked
to la Bastille well before the rally and bombarded me with text messages to
express their optimism – they even bumped into aspiring politician Eva
I left as well, to go to my friend Claire Vieille’s “soirée.” She
voted for Hollande but is not fond of his persona.
Her friend, Emmanuel,
is the lone Sarkozyite among the crowd. He is sickened by the gossipers in
“Sarkozy may have diverted money from some online poker
game with the singer Patrick Bruel,” one rumor stated. “He may have had Gaddafi
killed because he may have given 50 million for his campaign in 2007! He may be
a dictator, becoming a little Napoleon.”
Emmanuel tells me all this
before saying that he is a descendant of Masséna, a Field Marshall of Napoléon
I furiously scribble notes before returning to the party. The
TV blared the results, unfolding a portrait of Hollande on the screen. “Hurray!”
shout the guests as they raise their toasts, the champagne flowing
One onlooker says, “let the Red Flag fly over Neuilly,” referring
to Sarkozy’s electoral stronghold and hometown.
Another finds Sarkozy’s
“chasing after the voters of the National Front unworthy of the republic and
Claire’s 12 year-old-son, a composed and calm kid, sums up
“Change is good, but now Hollande has to prove himself up
to it,” he says.
“We changed president, it is a strange feeling,” says a
friend of mine.
I am reminded of a quote by Asterix the Gaul, that “the
French are all mad.”
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