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Prudence and awaiting
After Hollande´s election victory against Sarkozy
France turns over a new leaf. After 17 years, the new French President of the Republic is a socialist: François Hollande. According to official results he received 51.7% of the votes, while Nicolas Sarkozy 48.3%. "I would like to say to the President of the Republic: you are going to need everyone. I hope the President will really work towards unity. A work of unity which is absolutely expected", Mgr. Bernard Podvin, spokesman for the French Episcopal Conference stated in his reply to French radio station RCF, broadcasted on Monday, May 7. It is not the French Episcopal Conference ’s "official statement on the Presidential elections" SIR Europe pointed out, but the "answer given during the interview". In terms of the positions expressed by President Hollande with regards to same-sex unions and euthanasia, Mgr. Podvin pointed out that:"These issues need to be discussed and the Catholic Church has never kept quiet about what she thinks in relation to certain stances taken by the man who has now become the President of the Republic. Said stances need to be discussed in greater depth". Maria Chiara Biagioni interviewed for Sir Europe Jean-Dominique Durand, historian and professor at Jean Moulin-Lyon 3 University, on the French elections result.
What is the message conveyed by France with Hollande’s victory?
"I do not think it is correct to speak about a message. Frankly, one must first of all note that Hollande’s victory against Sarkozy is rather narrow. I also think that yesterday’s vote (May 6th) is not a message of consent towards Hollande but rather a vote against President Sarkozy, who was forced into a very difficult campaign. One must also consider that Sarkozy is the outgoing President and like everywhere else in Europe, governments in power had election issues because of unpopular measures taken due to the crisis. Another aspect that played against Sarkozy is his personality. He has never been popular in France. Therefore, I think that this election’s outcome does not entail a message but is more a rejection of his predecessor".
What future awaits Hollande?
"Hollande is very cautious and the leaders of his party follow suit.They are aware of the narrow victory and its underling reasons: if Sarkozy had left the post to another right party leader like Alain Alain Juppé he could have won. I have been struck by the prudence in the first statements and comments. They are very well aware of the terrible economic condition and difficult situation in Europe. Even if during the election campaign they claimed the crisis was overestimated, now they will have to come to terms with the real situation. One must not forget also that the battle is still not over due to Parliamentary elections on June 10 and 17. This morning’s surveys claim the battle between the right and the left is too close to call, leading to uncertainty on the legislative elections".
"Growth" has been the winning topic of this election...
"Yes, growth is very important, but one must understand that growth is an economic issue, and cannot be achieved through meetings or miraculously. In short, one cannot expect France to become a growing economy overnight. Hollande already announced cumbersome public spending. I am not an economist but I do not think growth is compatible with relevant economic costs or recruiting of new officials. I think there will be more of the economic crisis than growth".
What about Catholics?
"Catholics already expresses some concerns about the new President’s projects such as the ones on bioethics and morally on same-sex unions and euthanasia. During election campaign Hollande made pretty strong statements towards Catholic schools. These are all very important issues for the Catholic Church therefore of concern".
The Sarkozy-Merkel axis is broken. What will be Hollande’s stand?
"The axis is that of France-Germany, Berlin-Paris, sanctioned ever since the time of Adenauer and Schuman, and continued by General De Gaulle and after by Mitterrand and Khol and Chirac and Schröder. It is a consolidated tradition to build Europe and will continue because it would be crazy to break-it. Hollande, already announced that once he is officially sworn at the Elysium, he will fly to Berlin to meet the German Chancellor".
What is France’s take?
"We are not feeling the same excitement like when Mitterrand was elected. The situation is completely different. Now the most important issue is what will he do about his election campaign promises".