UPDATE 9:30pm PT:
WSJ: President Sarkozy
The window of opportunity for any new leader to bring change never stays open long. Even before yesterday’s runoff, trade unions and the Socialists threatened street violence and strikes at any hint of serious reform. The biggest risk for Mr. Sarkozy and France would be to hesitate. Fortunately patience and a reluctance to ruffle feathers aren’t his vices.
The new President’s biggest challenge will be to focus his campaign motto — to “rehabilitate work, authority, respect, meritocracy” — into a governing agenda. To that end, his plans to loosen labor regulations, cut the size of the state and the tax burden, and overhaul pensions would seem the more pressing task than his call for a new push on the Kyoto treaty. By proving that free-market policies yield results, Mr. Sarkozy can reconcile the French to the idea that growth isn’t an “Anglo-Saxon” plot to destroy their comfy lives…
Even so, the French voters, in their wisdom, couldn’t have come up with a more different man to replace President Jacques Chirac. Mr. Sarkozy brings energy, youth and daring to the Ã‰lysÃ©e. Better buckle up for the ride.
UPDATE 2pm PT:
As expected and good news for France and the world, Nicolas Sarkozy has won the French presidency. Here’s a sample of the coverage:
London Times Online: French give Sarkozy a mandate for reform
Nicolas Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, today won the French presidency with a clear mandate to apply radical reforms that break with decades of consensus on the primacy of the welfare state.
PARIS — Au revoir, Jacques Chirac, and bonjour to a new U.S.-friendly French president who identifies with the American dream and happily affirms that the French like burgers, Madonna and Miami Vice.
To France’s “American friends,” Nicolas Sarkozy said in his victory speech: “I want to tell them that France will always be by their side when they need.” He added, “I also want to tell them that friendship means accepting that friends can have different opinions.”
Canada’s National Post: Reactions to French presidential election
France 24 Live Television Coverage: Presidentielles 2007
A strong turnout for a French presidential contest, however, means just over 34 percent. While that number will probably go a bit higher, it just goes to show you how apathy has prevailed in the past. Sarkozy still holds onto what looks like a 10-point lead. Later this afternoon we very well could have a new era for France, one where the French people, despite the instance that the French hate America, vote into office a center-right, pro-America son of an immigrant.
PARIS â€” Turnout in France’s presidential election was massive as voters chose Sunday between two divergent visions of the future, with conservative front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy urging the French to work more and Socialist Segolene Royal pledging to safeguard welfare protections.
Surveys suggest Mr. Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, has a strong edge over Ms. Royal, who would become France’s first female president if she wins. The most recent survey, taken by Ipsos/Dell on Friday, said he was leading 55 per cent to her 45 per cent…
Mr. Sarkozy, 52, says France’s 35-hour work week is absurd and proposes relaxing labour laws to encourage hiring. A former interior minister, Mr. Sarkozy cracked down on drunk driving, crime and illegal immigration.
He is an admirer of the United States who has borrowed from some American policy ideas. Tough-talking and blunt, he won alienated many youths in France’s housing projects when he called young delinquents â€œscum.â€
Police were quietly keeping watch for possible unrest Sunday night in France’s poor, predominantly immigrant neighbourhoods if Mr. Sarkozy is elected. Authorities in the Seine-Saint-Denis region northeast of Paris â€” the epicentre of the 2005 rioting â€” refused officers’ requests for days off Sunday, one official said.
Yeah, why not try to take off election day when there might be violence. Well, I suppose some things won’t change for La France.