Nicholas Sarkozy Elected President Of France
Although in the short term, there might be some unrest in the heavily Muslim Paris suburbs and elsewhere in Muslim enclaves in France, Sarkozy can be countered upon to press recent Muslim immigrants to assimilate, and bar others from entering the country and further tipping the ethnic balance. That millions of French Muslims could be induced into modernity, rather than sticking to outdated concepts, would be highly encouraging to the world.
Sarkozy got 53% of the vote to 47% for Segolene Royal, who was bidding to become the first women president of France, and the race might presage a result in the U.S. if Rudolph Giuliani is the Republican candidate and Sen. Hillary Clinton the Democratic in next year's presidential election. Like Sarkozy, Giuliani is a law and order candidate, and like Sarkozy might be viewed as as a steadier prospect for president than a woman. Women continue to face obstacles to being elected to an executive position in many Western countries, especially if, unlike Margaret Thatcher in Britain, they appear to be weaker in any respect to theit opponents.
Exit polls also showed the Sarkozy victory to be comparable in some respects to Ronald Reagan's victory over President Carter in 1980. As with the Reagan Democrats who crossed over to vote Republican in that election, 46% of blue collar workers in France voted for Sarkozy, and 32% of those who said they favored a "green" position for environmentalism. Sarkozy even got 14% of the votes of those who said they considered themselves far to the left. Reagan's victory in the 1966 California gubernatorial election, it should be noted, came after both the Watts riot and student "free speech" demonstrations on the Berkeley campus of the University of California had disturbed many middle class and lower middle class voters, and his victory in the 1980 presidential election came after Carter's weakness in confronting the Iranian hostage crisis. By comparison, Sarkozy's victory Sunday followed last year's riots in the Muslim Paris suburbs. Sarkozy had called the rioters "scum," a term that was appealing to many of the middle class and lower middle class French.
Exit polls also showed Sarkozy had won 52% of the women who cast votes in the election, compared to only 48% for Socialist Segolene Royal, bidding to become the first woman to be elected President of France. Royal got most of the votes of younger voters, while Sarkozy did best among those 60 and higher.
Sarkozy had to overcome some serious obstacles. Outgoing President Jacques Chirac was cool toward him, the centrist candidate in the first round of the elections, Francois Bayrou, said he would not vote for him, and the rightist Jean Marie Le Pen asked his voters not to turn out for him. But he still prevailed and kept France under the more or less conservative control that has prevailed most of the time since Charles de Gaulle took back power in 1958 and created the Fifth Republic with a new Constitution.
Much has already been said about the possibility that Sarkozy will get along better with the United States than the outgoing French president, Jacques Chirac, did. But, judging from his public statements, he will take care to be somewhat independent.
The new president's friendly attitude toward Israel, is not at all uncertain. He has sounded like President George W. Bush in saying that Israel has a right to defend itself, and his election may well mark the first alignment of France with Israeli interests since de Gaulle came to power. In this regard, it was revealed on Monday that 90.7% of the 6,276 French expatriates living in Israel and voting in the French election voted for Sarkozy.