French President Nicolas Sarkozy's action-packed six-year term has ended in defeat at the hands of Socialist challenger François Hollande.
Hollande, who ran on pledges to raise income taxes, took a little less than 52 percent to Sarkozy's little more than 48 percent in the runoff election.
Hollande has promised to raise income tax rates from 41 percent to 75 percent. He has also pledged to accelerate the departure of French troops from Afghanistan. His election comes at a time when unprecedented levels of public debt coupled with work-averse political cultures are threatening to break up of the eurozone.
France's unemployment rate is at a 13-year high of 10 percent (handy comparison with other countries, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The country's inability to manage its debt led Standard & Poor's Ratings Services in January to lower France's triple-A debt rating.
Although France remains among the less-stricken economies in Europe, the resiliency of its bureaucracies make it impossible for the country to control the growth rate of public spending. The European debt crisis has made dissolution of the euro an attractive option for inflation-happy governments eager to abandon the transnational movement and return to local mismanagement and socialist immiseration.
Although Sarkozy's defeat is being depicted as a repudiation of free-market economics, he was never a particularly good friend of the free market. He was, however, a reliably entertaining political presence who may have slightly widened the scope of allowable political opinion in France. This included his introducing the cocktail of Carla Bruni into the mix of international politics. Predictably, model/actress/singer Bruni is now being blamed for his downfall. France24 denounces the outgoing first lady as the "worm in Sarkozy's mouldy apple," while the Daily Mail posts photos of Bruni looking "disheveled" (i.e., still better put together than 90 percent of the population of Planet Earth).