Daily Digest: Waking up to a different Europe

Francois Hollande wins the french presidential elections and marks a new period for European politics. (Photo by Benjamin Géminel, on Flickr)

Socialist candidate for the french presidency, Francois Hollande, yesterday won the election. He defeated the former president Nicolas Sarkozy by receiving close to 52 percent of the votes in the final stage for presidential race. By the victory Hollande will be the first socialist president in France in 17 years. BBC has made this portrait of the new french president Hollande, and this portrait of the defeated president Nicolas Sarkozy.

This election has been much awaited from the other EU countries, and the new french president was very aware of that in his first speech after the results where revealed. “Europe is watching us, austerity can no longer be the only option,” he said in a victory speech in his stronghold of Tulle before he drove to Paris. And he had an early victory, as other European leaders gave him immediate support for his plan to build a new common growth strategy for Europe. Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, said in Berlin shortly after Hollande’s victory was secured, that “We will work together on a growth pact”. But in the midst of joy, the German newsmagazine, Der Spiegel, writes in an analysis, that Hollande is predestined to disappoint.

Also Greece had general elections yesterday. The two major coalition parties, New Democracy and PASOK, that have backed the austerity measures put out by the EU and IMF in return for loans, faced big losses in the election. New Democracy and PASOK are not able to form a coalition without backing from some of the traditionally smaller parties, that gained a lot of voters. The parties which had a successful election are not ready to continue the austerity politic, which leaves Greece in a rather chaotic situation. How the parties will be able to form a coalition is rather unpredictable, and has already put Greece’s position in the euro at risk. It is now up to the leader of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, to try to form a coalition.

The two elections in France and Greece have put a lot of uncertainty in the drama around the eurozone countries and their debt-crisis. And one thing rather certain is that the markets react negative on uncertainty. And this is no exception. When the markets in Asia opened the euro fell, but also in Europe the markets have reacted negative.

Two other elections yesterday worth noting is the election i Serbia, and the election in the northern state of Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, where Angela Merkels conservative party faced defeat. In Serbia no candidate won the majority to take the presidential office, but here the Serbian Progressive Party was narrowly ahead of the current president’s party, the Democratic Party. This means the two presidential candidates of these parties will face another presidential race on May 20. Many analyst assess that in the final round the ruling Democratic Party will win. While the Democratic Party is pro-European, the Serbian Progressive Party’s leader have said that he would rather see Serbia as a Russian province than a member of the EU. Therefor the final round on May 20 will pretty much be a choice between EU or Russia. In the beginning of March Serbia obtained status as an official EU candidate.

 

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