As of 8 PM on Monday, there’s a new president of the Republic. Nicholas Sarkozy was beaten out by François Hollande, the socialist.
My host family and I watched the elections being announced through an online streaming site. We all gathered around the computer in the kitchen and drank champagne (everyone except for the baby!) as the female anchor announced that Hollande has won!! My host dad even teared up a little! He was fourteen years old the last time the goverment was left-wing under François Mitterand.
At 8:01, cars in the street started honking loudly. We went to the balcony to investigate. No traffic jams, just joyous citizens celebrating! It was really cool to be in a city for such a tremendous shift in goverment. I can’t imagine how crazy the Bastille (where Hollande’s camp was congretating) must have been. The honking near me lasted well into the night. I heard some as I was going to bed around midnight.
It’s hard NOT to follow the election, for the names and faces of the candidates have been plastered all over Paris for weeks. It’s certainly interesting to see how another country goes through the process of selecting a president. There’s an old expression in France regarding the “first tour” in which the pool of candidates are narrowed to two, and “second tour” in which France choooses between the final two candidates. Simplified, the old adage says: Pour un premier tour, on choisit avec le coeur. Pour le deuxième tour, on choisit avec la tête. We choose with the heart for the first tour, and choose with the head for the second tour. Even politics are romantic! Another semi-romantic fact: all the votes are counted out by hand. None of that electronic business that we use in the States.
A whopping 80% of France voted. Time will tell whether Hollande will be able to help France navigate the Euro crisis. Dun dun dun! Vive la France!