It’s not over yet. Nicolas Sarkozy has to endure the indignity of a runoff following his second place finish to Socialist candidate François Hollande. Polls indicate Sarkozy will almost certainly lose the runoff, and by a wide margin.
Anticipating a Sarkozy defeat,The New York Times last week teased out a few of the implications of the French election that would “radiate far beyond Paris.” These include:
An important alliance has been maintained between Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on euro zone issues. That alliance is now over.
François Hollande has indicated he wants to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan on a more aggressive timeline than NATO has agreed to.
Hollande will also favor economic growth over austerity measures that are intended to control the size of France’s debt. It remains to be seen how financial markets will react.
Another significant aspect of Sarkozy’s impending defeat is the French election could be a bit of a bellwether for other nations, such as the U.S. Will voters frustrated by slow economic growth turn on Obama in the Fall? Obama has one important advantage over Sarkozy. While unemployment is at 10 percent in France, it is a slightly more acceptable 8.2 percent in the U.S. Obama, of course, has another six months to improve on those numbers.