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Elections In Europe Seen As Referendum On Austerity

President-elect Francois Hollande waves from the balcony of the Socialist Party headquarters in Paris Monday. (AP)

France has a new leader. Leftist Francois Hollande narrowly defeated incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy and he’ll take office no later than May 16.

The victory could deal a death blow to the drive for austerity during some of Europe’s worst economic troubles, as Hollande campaigned on the idea that “Austerity can no longer be inevitable,” and he promised to raise taxes on corporations and the rich.

“[Hollande] still has quite a lot to prove” and it’s yet to be seen how he’ll tackle economic issues, James Coomarasamy, reporter for The BBC, told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

“We know the broad outline… the question is when he comes up against opposition… and reality… perhaps some of those policies and promises will have to be rounded off at the edges,” he said.

Coomarasamy adds that the sentiment that drove many voters was a desire to get Sarkozy out of power.

“I think people are happy to be ride of Sarkozy, but nervous about Hollande,” he said.


  • James Coomarasamy, reporter for The BBC
  • Christopher Dickey, Newsweek’s Paris bureau Chief.

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  • Lavada

    Hey America. France and Greece have spoken.
    They threw the bums out. Now its your turn to speak in 6 months.
    Boy, are the French and Greeks are fortunate to have a short election campaign period. The Europeans don’t need months or years of endless campaigning to come to their decisions concerning their leaders.
    Whereas in the US, its an industry which goes on it seems forever with endless campaigns, false promises and lies galore. What would the 24/7 cable show talking heads do without something to speculate on?  The Hope and Change slogan will be replaced will some new catchy one created by the PR boys. They need the time to “sell” you their brand.
    Only 183 days more of the “electioneering” Americans have to endure as hundreds of millions will be spent in an attempt to convince you which puppet for Corporate America gets to occupy the White House for the interests of Wall(War) Street.
    In the meanwhile, the rich will get richer and the rest with fight over the dwindling crumbs they feed you to control you.
    If all the monies wasted on these campaigns and those of the Super Pacs be aimed towards actually doing something for the masses, they would become obsolete.
    Politicians are needed to create problems and then provide a solution. But there is never a solution. Endless problems thus require politicians. They truly are parasites.

    • J__o__h__n

      How well did throwing the bums out in 2010 work out?  They were replaced by one of the worst Congresses ever. 

      The French rejected austerity and the moderate conservative couldn’t get the far right to support him.  Romney can’t get the Etch-a-Sketch out yet as the right still needs to be appeased. 

  • Jean

    Dear Robin.  Thank you for the goodbye to your “fat black cat.”  I have also been blessed in receiving the love of a number of cats—three at the moment.  I will never forget the ones that are no longer with me.  One is 13 now, probably comparable in cat years to my 76.  His purr is very much like your cat’s.  Don’t hesitate to bring another cat into your life (or 2 or 3).  Cats can take you through all sorts of life’s joys and sorrows.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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