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Foreign press: Hollande win is 'turning point'

AFP · 7 May 2012, 09:01

Published: 07 May 2012 09:01 GMT+02:00

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The European and international press has described the victory of Socialist Francois Hollande in the French presidential election as a turning point for Europe, but warned of major challenges ahead.

"Au revoir President Bling Bling!" headlined Britain's conservative tabloid Daily Mail, while German papers wondered what the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy would spell for Germany's ties with France.

Hollande's victory was "a turning point, especially for Angela Merkel," Financial Times Deutschland said.

"Francois Hollande, whom the chancellor wanted to avoid at all costs, has become president in place of her favourite. 

"How unpleasant for Merkel. Not so much because Hollande would threaten the rescue of the euro. But because his demand to complement the EU fiscal pact with growth elements strikes at the chancellor's supremacy in Europe," it noted.

Left-leaning Berlin paper Tagesspiegel also viewed the socialist's victory as a blow for Merkel. It saw France as "symbolically leaving northern Europe in favour of southern Europe –in terms of drifting away from budgetary discipline" and concluded: "This means that Germany has fewer, too few, allies."

"If the international financial markets begin to lose faith in France, the second-biggest industrial nation in the European Union, it will weaken the euro.

"This country alone (Germany) will not be able to stabilise it."

Britain's Independent said Hollande's victory, and the end of Sarkozy, heralded "a change in how Europe tackles its debt crisis and how France operates around the world."

London's Financial Times said: "Sarkozy becomes latest victim of anti-incumbent backlash," with all eyes now on reaction on the world markets.

In the New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman, the austerity-sceptical Nobel Prize-winning economist, hailed voters in France, and also Greece, for having "turned two thumbs down" on Europe's current economic strategy.

"It's far from clear how soon the votes will lead to changes in actual policy, but time is clearly running out for the strategy of recovery through austerity  and that's a good thing," Krugman wrote, welcoming the end of the Franco-German axis dubbed 'Merkozy'.

Austria's Kurier newspaper ran the headline "Hollande topples Sarkozy from the throne," but commented in another article "Paris: lots of civic duty, but little fervour" for the new president who faces big challenges.

The largest-selling nationwide Austrian daily Kronen Zeitung added: "Hollande seals the end of Sarkozy" while Vienna's Die Presse said that "A mammoth task awaits the new guy."

Spain's centre-left daily El Pais declared: "The European left was reborn this May 6 in France.

"The anticipated victory of Hollande, a phlegmatic man who has the gift of irony but not the slightest experience of government, opens a new political stage in France as much as Europe," the paper wrote.

For the centre-right daily El Mundo, the French left had regained the presidency "in elections marked by the biggest economic and social crisis of the past half century.

Japan's Jiji Press said Hollande's success and that of the anti-austerity parties in Greece was a warning sign for those pressing for economic reforms in Europe.

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"After these severe judgments from voters, the EU will inevitably need to review its course."

In China, an editorial in the Global Times daily argued that Hollande's victory alone would not in itself be enough to push through debt reform in France.

"The change has to come from reflection of a wider scope," it argued.

"But protests against austerity measures from Greece to France have suggested that this much-needed reflection is far from coming. Statesmen are busy pleasing voters, not leading reflection."

As for Sarkozy, the Dutch paper De Volkskrant paid a sort of compliment to the outgoing leader, saying "with the departure of Super Sarko, France is losing a fascinating phenomenon."

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