By Anastasiya Pershkina
France has elected its new President – Socialist Francois Hollande who defeated the incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy by 3%.
Thus, leftists took the helm again after a 17-year break and France is facing a new political course.
First, Socialists lost their main candidate –ex-IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn due to a sex scandal. At that time, experts were rather skeptical about Holland though he had won primaries. His debates with Sarkozy changed the situation-Hollande responded to the latter’s aggressive attacks with great decency. Experts believe that he will continue to show his strength and will propose a new political course for France.
Hollande has already pledged to replace austerity with gradual economic growth and his number one mission will be to keep France a top EU country.
Hollande is also expected to conduct a more balanced foreign policy within NATO, believes the head of the Center for French Studies at the Institute for European Studies, Yuri Rubinsky
“France has never led and will never lead NATO. Sarkozy’s activity in Libya was caused by his close ties with Libya’s toppled regime. Moreover, France, together with the UK, is trying to respond to the US shifting emphasis to Southeast Asia, namely China.”
The main intrigue of France’s new foreign policy is its direction. Will it go Eastwards or Westwards? If France chooses the East, Russia should become its main partner. The countries have century-old relations. All wars and conflicts were left behind in the 19th century while the 20th saw a lot of bilateral cooperation deals, says the head of the European Law Institute Mark Entin
“Russia-France cooperation has a great potential and we would like France to become more East-oriented and continue traditions of bilateral privileged partnership. Everything will depend on the new president’s team, and the general balance of power in the country. Hollande will need the parliament’s support for a political carte blanche.”
Hollande will be challenged by a strong opposition, not only democrats, but primarily far rights. Their leader Marine Le Pen came third in the first round of the elections and she stated that a battle for power has just begun, says Mark Entin
“Le Pen made no urges to support other candidates, she was against both of them. It was them who were seeking her support. She and her voters comprise a significant part of the population that has a say in internal affairs.”
France will see parliamentary election on June 10 and their results will shape the new president’s course. In 2007, Sarkozy’s supporters got the majority of seats in the lower chamber while Socialists controlled the upper one.
The forthcoming election will show whether a new French policy will be totally “left” or not.