Sarkozy down...

FRENCH president Nicolas Sarkozy suffered a humiliating first round defeat in the presidential race, beaten into second place by the Socialist candidate who now looks set to win outright in next month’s run-off. Sarkozy, the leader of the conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMR) now has the dubious honour of being the first incumbent president to lose the first round contest under the constitution of the Fifth Republic, established by General de Gaulle in 1958.

Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande topped the poll with 28.6 per cent of the popular vote, Sarkozy took 27.1 per cent and Marine Le Pen, who leads the racist National Front, won 17.9 per cent. Jean-Luc Melenchon of the Left Front, a left-social democratic platform supported by the French communist party, came fourth with 11.1 per cent, followed by five also-rans in an 80 per cent turn-out.

Hollande, is running on a Socialist and Radical Left platform of Keynesian social-democratic reform that includes job-creation schemes, bringing the official retirement age back down to 60 from 62 and imposing a 75 per cent income tax rate on the rich. The Left Front has called on its supporters to close ranks around the Socialist candidate while Sarkozy is trying to revive his flagging fortunes by scrabbling around for the racist vote that went to the National Front in the first round.

Sarkozy is down and he may well be out as well. The European money markets dipped by nearly three per cent when the results were declared as the bankers and speculators brace themselves for a new government that will attempt to put at least some of the burden of the slump on the backs of those who can well afford to disgorge some of their wealth to pay for the crisis.

The swing to the left reflects the mounting anger in France and throughout the European Union against the draconian austerity programmes of the bourgeoisie, which have impoverished millions of workers and have brought the people of Greece to their knees.

French workers have sent a clear message to the bourgeoisie, and those who seek high office on the backs of workers’ votes: that they are no longer prepared to accept the brutal dictates of the bankers, exploiters and oppressors. It’s a lesson Miliband & Co should note...