Well, it’s the dawn of a new era here in France. François Hollande became President-elect of France after defeating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy with 51.62% of the vote. (Sarkozy received an estimated 48.38%.) This marks the first time in seventeen years that a representative from the French Socialist Party has held the office.
Like past American elections, the results were close enough that many are displeased with the results; however, you can count me among those who are happy to see Sarkozy go. The first round of elections showed him trailing behind Hollande by a 1.45% margin, so we knew the odds were in Hollande’s favor, but we still breathed sighs of relief—and uncorked bottles of champagne—when the results were announced; judging by the sounds of horns and cheers in the streets, we weren’t the only ones relieved at his imminent departure. Sarkozy was known in his re-election campaign for his hard-line views on all immigration, legal or otherwise—ironic considering he’s half Hungarian—and his opposition to the idea of same-sex marriage, and this lesbian Francophile is thrilled to see him on his way out the door. That said; I don’t care to devote any more time to the man. I’m more interested in his successor.
François Hollande has been ahead in opinion polls throughout the campaign, and he maintained that lead in the April 22 first round; however, French election protocol doesn’t allow for the early publishing of exit polls, so everyone was on pins and needles until the results were announced. As an American citizen, I don’t have the right to vote in French elections, but I’ve been firmly in Hollande’s camp since he published an outline of his policies in January. Republicans, cover your eyes; he aims to reabsorb the national debt by 2017, by taxing the rich rather than stealing borrowing from the poor. The first orders of business include canceling Sarkozy’s tax cuts and exemptions for the wealthy and raising income taxes for people whose annual incomes exceed one million euros. Hollande also intends to recreate the 60,000 teaching jobs that Sarkozy eliminated. (Hmm… The first items on the agenda are the guy on the left cleaning up in the guy on the right’s wake. Interesting. That doesn’t resemble American government in the slightest, oh no.)
Holland has also proposed allowing extending voting rights—in local elections—to non-nationals after five years of legal residency. What? Allowing the people who pay you taxes a voice in decisions that directly impact them? Why, this is crazy talk, Mr. President! When I arrived at the part where he promised to regulate rising rent, I already felt like joining the campaign, but he sold me when he announced his intention to extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples.
Yes, you read that correctly kids, the President-elect of France has the LGBT portion of his country fairly near the top of his agenda. Same-sex couples in France don’t currently have the right to file for a joint adoption or marry. Civil unions (the PACS) were introduced in France in 1999—60% of the participants are heterosexual couples—but this is a politician who doesn’t appear to think that separate but equal institutions are okay. Even though Hollande’s own relationships have come in the form of domestic partnerships—more than thirty years and four children with previous Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal, and roughly five years with current partner Valérie Trierweiller—he’s still ready to see to it that everyone has the right to legally marry, regardless of their sexuality. His website stated, “Freedom is the ability to let two people in love, regardless of their sexual orientation to unite. Equality is to allow any couple to use the same device without legal discrimination.” He’s planning on challenging the status quo in early 2013. (He takes office on May 15, 2012.) Granted, he’ll still have to win over Parliament, but I’m feeling optimistic.
At the very least, it’s nice to have the full support of the President of the country in which you reside. So, I’ll happily drink champagne with the French and bid adieu to Monsieur Sarkozy.