Official French election numbers are coming out and the gist is this…Socialist challenger Francois Hollande has won the first round, edging out incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy by about 29% to 27%.
That means Hollande and Sarkozy will face off in a second round election in two weeks
Marine Le-Pen, the far right wing, anti-immigrant, anti-Euro candidate is taking home a stunning 20% of the vote.
This is more than her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen received in the 2002 election, when he surpassed Lionel Jospin to make it into the runoff (where he got clobbered by Jacque Chirac).
She’s out of the race, but her bloc of votes does represent a huge opportunity for Sarkozy if he can win convince her base of anti-immigrant, anti-Euro voters to come over to him… that’s not a sure thing by any stretch. It will also be difficult for Sarkozy to get her voters without alienating his core supporters.
As for the implications for broader Europe. Germany would obviously like to see Sarkozy win. He’s on board with the mainstream idea that austerity is the answer to Europe’s woes. Hollande on the other hand favours a renegotiating of the fiscal compact (that was a greed to last year), and he’s in favour of higher taxes on the rich.
So Europe will be holding its breath until May 6.
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