Victory in France for Socialist party

Updated: 2012-05-07 12:46

By Li Xiang (

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The newly elected French president Francois Hollande is going to face a significant challenge in tackling the eurozone crisis but the Socialist victory is unlikely to derail Europe's ongoing efforts to try to balance the region's public finances, experts said on Monday.

The 57-year-old Socialist candidate Hollande defeated the incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy by 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent on Sunday, becoming the country's first Socialist to win the presidential election in almost two decades.

While the Socialist victory of the French presidency will bring changes to the country's handling of its diplomatic and military affairs, the most prominent challenge Hollande is going to face is to negotiate with Germany on adding a growth pact to the region's new fiscal treaty, experts said.

"Hollande will try to create a new French-German consensus in terms of boosting growth in the European Union," Francois Heisbourg, a senior adviser with the French think tank Foundation for Strategic Research, told China Daily.

"France is unlikely to challenge Germany but Hollande has made it clear that France is not going to ratify the fiscal treaty if there is no growth element in it," he said. "The question is whether Merkel will be politically able and personally willing to work toward such consensus."

Meanwhile, campaign watchers said that the Socialist victory in the French presidential race may bring uncertainties to Sino-French relations but Hollande is likely to adopt a pragmatist approach toward China.

"He is unlikely to clash with China on ideological issues but, rather, he is going to be pragmatic as he is a smart politician and he knows clearly what role China plays in international affairs," Tian Ling, a member of the French National Council for Diversity, told China Daily.

Like the right wing opposition party, Hollande will seek to foster smooth trade and investment relations with Chinaafter he takes office.

"But it will take time for Hollande and his team to get to know more about China and Chinese policymakers, so there is still a question mark surrounding his policies toward China," Tian said.

On Sunday night, supporters of Hollande, holding roses and national flags, flooded the Place dela Bastille in Paris to celebrate their leader’s victory.

"Hollande is going to increase salaries and raise taxes for the big bosses, which I think is going to benefit most of the ordinary people in France,” Hehue Azancot, a voter in Paris told China Daily.

Hollande campaigned on promises to stimulate growth, raise taxes on businesses and the wealthy and restrain spending. He also vowed to balance the country's budget by 2017.

But some voters are concerned about the country’s deteriorating fiscal situation as France has been stripped of its triple-A rating on sovereign credit.

"The most urgent problem for Hollande to fix is to reduce the country's debt. He needs to make sure that the country does not go bankrupt," a French voter who declined to be named said.

In his victory speech, Hollande vowed to lift the country out of economic crisis and to persuade other European leaders to demand measures for "growth, jobs and prosperity".

"I'm sure in a lot of European countries there is relief, hope that at last austerity is no longer inevitable," he said.

Hollande is scheduled to take office on May 15 and his supporters are hoping that the Left could win the victory in the parliamentary election next month.

Analysts said the incumbent Sarkozy was defeated on Sunday as a result of the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone and voters’ increasing dissatisfaction with the country’s weak economic growth and high unemployment rate.

They said that "anti-incumbent" sentiment has swept Europe, making Sarkozy the 11th eurozone leader to be ousted from office since the beginning of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. He is also the first right wing French president in 30 years who failed to be re-elected.