In milestone elections, Greece radicalizes, France moderates

Springtime Sundays are election days in Europe, and this one brought two blockbusters. In France, Nicolas Sarkozy becomes only the second man to lose re-election in the half-century since the country began electing presidents by direct popular vote. Socialist François Hollande defeated him, becoming only the second Socialist president of the Fifth Republic, following François Mitterrand 31 years ago.

Trailing after first-round voting two weeks ago, Sarkozy swung hard to the right, trying to pick up voters from Marine Le Pen’s National Front party with anti-immigrant themes. Hollande tried a more traditional centrist path — well, centrist by French standards, where Hollande’s proposal for a top tax rate of 75% drew little comment — and held enough of his advantage to seal his victory.

The results in Greece could hardly be more different. Support for traditional parties collapsed, and extreme left- and right-wing parties prospered. It remains to be seen whether anyone can even form a government out of the resulting mess.

Why the different outcomes? Partly it’s different systems. France was voting in a run-off where third- and fourth-place parties were already eliminated. Greece was electing a parliament. And it was doing so in reaction to a European bailout plan that required harsh austerity measures that just about nobody in Greece liked. This mess is the result. From the New York Times:

Starting Monday, the front-runners have three days to try to form a government. But with seven parties expected to enter Parliament, the prospects for stability appeared low.

“It’s a completely fragmented Parliament,” said Loukas Tsoukalis, the president of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, an Athens research institute. “The two former big parties have suffered a defeat which is greater than most people had expected.”

He said that he expected new elections soon. “The question is what happens in between, whether there are any realignments in the Greek political system that provide credible alternatives to protest movements,” Mr. Tsoukalis said. “If this doesn’t happen, then Greece is in deep” trouble, he added.




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In milestone elections, Greece radicalizes, France moderates

  1. Now, if Germany loses its AAA rating like France and the US, the Germans may turn out Angela Merkel and elect the Social Democrats. What that will accomplish, nobody knows.

    Prediction: the world is about to see how socialist the Socialists in France (and the rest of Europe) aren’t. The real leader of France (and the EU) right now is IMF Director Christine Lagarde.

  2. Most European nations have been rightwing for years, and Europe is in a mess.

    Naturally people will turn left….not that it will help

    Again, what they need are parties of the centre.

  3. Truly shabby, lazy reporting here! The true “radicalization” will undboutedly be the offspring of the French, not Greek election! This is a major shift by a major Euro player. France will be in a strong position to demand the old Merkozy duet’s failed ideology of austerity, that produced more austerity and destroyed peripherals’ economies, be dismantled. The Derivatives Casinos of Wall St. exported their poison to european countries and we’ve seen the outcome of lack of regulation. Greenspan was the archengineer of this mess when in 1998 he fired Brooksley Born when she warned of the impending global derivatives due to the shadow $12Trillion (then) credit default/derivatives markets.
    The radicalization of the 99% has just started in Europe and the tremors will be far-felt….It’s about time they woke up to the unworkable and as Greenspan admitted at the Financial Enquity, “my ideology was a failure….yes, I was wrong to think Free Markets can take care of their own frauds…” Read some history. You gain a different perspective than the soundbites you rely on to write non-stories!

  4. Hard working and prosperous French and Greeks can always move their domiciles to stable and growing Poland, where they’ll find amicable political system, familiar cultural settings and
    safe and secure environment for their families. Let the Greek and French
    peasants play at extremist politics all their hearts’ desire.

  5. Good news. Hope humanity will stop praying to the god called “Market”

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