Here’s our last election post for the day, with enough votes decided to make the outcomes clear.
Sarkozy’s out, did Le Pen decide it?
President Nicolas Sarkozy is looking for a new gig, following a narrow defeat today at the hands of Socialist [sic] François Hollande.
One exit pole suggests that the difference between winning and losing may have been the refusal of Far Right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen to endorse Sarkoleon.
First, the main story from Joseph Bamat of France 24:
French socialist François Hollande won France’s presidential election on Sunday, with thousands of his supporters rallying across the country to celebrate the left’s return to the Elysée Palace after almost two decades out of office.
France’s Interior Ministry said the left-wing candidate had claimed around 51.7% of the runoff vote to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy’s 48.3%, with turnout at 81%.
Bamat also notes a very interesting fact:
According to a survey by Ipsos polling institute, half of Hollande’s voters said their first reason for voting for the left-wing candidate was to oust Sarkozy.
The same survey found that 35% of people who voted for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the first round either cast blank ballots or abstained in the runoff, depriving Sarkozy of crucial support from the right.
Now Le Pen got 17.9 percent of the first round votes, and 35 percent of that is 5.97 percent of the total votes and Sarko lost by 3.4 percent. Le Pen announced she wouldn’t support Sarkozy, but would be casting a blank ballot instead. No wonder he ran so far to the Right in a desperate attempt to win them over.
Tony Cross of Radio France Internationale offers a list of reasons voters rejected Sarkozy.
First on his list was Bling:
The French dislike ostentation so much that they’ve named it twice – the English “bling” has become “bling-bling” and Sarkozy has become known as “le président bling-bling”. A victory dinner at the swish Champs Elysées restaurant Le Fouquet’s attended by dozens of captains of industry and media movers and shakers set the tone. Then there was the holiday on the yacht of advertising and media boss Vincent Bolloré, not to mention the wage rise for the presidency, the 55,000-euro watch and the ex-supermodel wife. Sarkozy argued that, like a wealth-creating entrepreneur, he deserved to be well remunerated for working hard. Many less well-off people saw such flashiness as a slap in the face as their incomes suffered or they lost their jobs and some middle-class voters found it just plain vulgar.
Words from the winner’s circle
And a quote from the winner’s victory speech via Angelique Chrisafis of The Guardian:
Taking the stage at Bastille after midnight, Hollande told the crowd his victory was a message to everyone in Europe that “change is coming”, and that he brought hope for all the people in Europe, who regardless of their leaders, wanted “an end to austerity”. He said he would “redress, repair and reunite” a fractured France that was “broken and burnt”.
For election wonks, The Guardian posted a department-by-department results spreadsheet here.
From Greece, a new political game?
First, the latest poll numbers from the BBC:
With three-quarters of votes counted, centre-right New Democracy is leading with 19.6%, down from 33.5% in 2009.
Centre-left Pasok is in third place with 13.5%, down from 43.9% in the last elections. Left-wing coalition Syriza is in second place with 16.3%.
Pasok and New Democracy, in coalition since last November, were expected to lose support to anti-austerity parties.
There is widespread anger across Greece to harsh measures imposed by the government in return for international bailouts.
Syriza opposes the government’s austerity measures.
The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party could enter parliament for the first time if their tally of almost 7% holds up.
From Helena Smith of The Guardian, including some more about the two biggest winners:
“This is a message of change, a message to Europe that a peaceful revolution has begun,” said Alexis Tsipras, who heads Syriza, a coalition of radical left and green groups that took. . .the second largest share. “German chancellor Angela Merkel has to know that the politics of austerity have suffered a humiliating defeat.”
With no single party winning enough support to form a government, a period of uncertainty lies ahead as political leaders attempt to form a coalition. Analysts did not rule out fresh elections in June if a new administration cannot be formed.
Economic freefall and social disintegration also prompted Greeks to vote for the far right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), which campaigned on an anti-immigration ticket. The ultra-nationalists, who poured into the streets holding blazing torches, captured 7% of the vote – enough to place 19 deputies in the 300-seat house for the first time since the collapse of military rule in 1974.
George Gilson of Athens News offers more nuance:
ND was decimated by its leader’s decision to expel about 20 MPs that voted down the bailout memorandum. The Independent Greeks, an ND splinter party, is garnering 10.5 percent. Party leader Panos Kammenos suggested that MPs may break party lines to form an ant-memorandum coalition, and he alluded to possible leadership challenges in parties.
The astounding success of the Radical Left Coalition (Syriza), which is poised with 16.5 percent, to become the main opposition, is the greatest upset of the election. That guarantees party leader Alexis Tsipras an exploratory mandate, if Samaras fails to form government, to see if he can form a left-wing anti-memorandum government, as he pledged.
The total collapse of Pasok is the most dramatic development in the election, as its 13.6 percent is about 30 percentage points less than its 2009 showing. Only in the 1970s, before the party first came to power, did it record a lower result.
Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos said there was no clear mandate for any single party. He called for a national unity government, comprised of all pro-EU parties, regardless of their position on the harsh fiscal adjustment programme.
Ekathemerini reports on one possible outcome of the vote, which would have the old coalition retaining power but with a very weak mandate:
[I]n the best-case scenario, New Democracy, which will be awarded an extra 50 seats, and PASOK would only have a majority of a few MPs in the 300-seat Parliament. Even if they were able to agree to form a coalition, it would have weak political legitimacy in wake of an election that saw Greek voters move en masse toward parties that opposed the bailout agreed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras both declared themselves open to the idea of forming a pro-European national unity administration that would include other parties and would seek to renegotiate the terms of the EU-IMF loan agreement.
“All Greeks have to get to know each other again,” said Venizelos, who admitted that PASOK had paid the price for carrying the burden of the crisis. “We embittered the people so we could protect the future of the nation.”
He said that the possibility of forming a national unity government with a “European orientation” regardless of parties’ positions on the bailout should be explored.
And the Troika stands firm
From Keep talking Greece, a report that the European Powers That Be are declaring, in effect, “We don’t care who wins. You’re stuck with the deal.”:
Officials from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund said Sunday that Greece must adhere strictly to its austerity program–that includes taking new measures in June–signaling that there was little room for a new Greek government to renegotiate the country’s bailout terms.
Instead, more than 60% of the popular vote went to smaller left- and right-wing parties that have campaigned against the austerity program Greece must implement in exchange for continued financing from its European partners and the IMF.
“The program is the only way forward for Greece,” an EU official told Dow Jones Newswires, and added that any renegotiation of the tough targets would be “within strict boundaries, very, very limited.”
An IMF official said its representatives “will only return to Greece if the new government is ready to finalize new cost-cutting that has already been agreed.”
The IMF official said that while official-sector creditors were prepared to wait until a new government is formed in Athens, there are no thoughts of deviating from what has been agreed to with the previous government.
And Golden Dawn?
The newest parliamentary party demands some respect from the press. Or else.
From Greek Reporter’s Danai Kanella:
Members of the far-right fascist party Golden Dawn, which for the first time succeeded in entering the Greek parliament, asked the journalists who were covering the press conference of leader Nikos Mihaloliakos, to ”stand in attention” during his entrance. A few minutes before, the secretary general of the party informed the reporters that they should stand still as a sign of respect and then gave them a military order.
The incident caused strong reaction from the journalst, who refused to follow the order and complained about it. The secretary answered that ”everyone who doesn’t agree must leave.” The journalist preferred to leave the press conference.
There’s a video of the incident [in Greek] at Greek Reporter.