French Socialists Elect Presidential Candidate

Former party boss François Hollande will run against President Nicolas Sarkozy.

French socialists elected former party boss François Hollande to be their contender in next year’s presidential election. Hollande emerged as the candidate from two rounds of voting which pitted him against the more combative Martine Aubry in a runoff election on Sunday.

Hollande, who was perceived as the most electable of the left’s presidential hopefuls, led with nearly 57 percent of the vote Sunday night which prompted Aubry to concede defeat.

Nationwide, Hollande enjoys a 60 percent favorability rating which makes him by far the favorite for next year’s election. The incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, is unpopular while third party candidate Marine Le Pen, who leads the far-right Front national, doesn’t enjoy broad support although some polls earlier this year predicted that she could make a second round of presidential voting which would virtually ensure a socialist victory.

Presidential elections in France require a runoff between the two top tier candidates when neither wins an outright majority of the votes during the first round.

The political left in France is anxious for a presidential election victory after winning scores of local elections in recent years and securing, for the first time in more than half a century, a majority in the upper house of parliament last month.

There hasn’t been a socialist in the Élysée Palace since François Mitterrand left office more than fifteen years ago but no conservative president has been as consistently unpopular as Sarkozy. His administration’s failure to revitalize the French economy will likely dominate next year’s election struggle when immigration and security policy are expected to take a back seat.