Yesterday Francois Hollande became the first Socialist to be elected president of France since Francois Mitterand left office in 1995, and dead-beats from Troyes to Toulouse inflated their throat pouches and croaked for joy.
Mr. Hollande has pledged to lower the retirement age, keep the 35-hour work week, hire 65,000 more teachers and assign half the posts in his administration to women. If Dominique Strauss-Kahn had made that pledge I would have assumed he was building a harem, but Mr. Hollande has claimed to have much purer motives.
There’s no word on whether he plans to put a Frenchman on the moon by 2019, but unless they can find a way to build a paper-mache spaceship from worthless French stock certificates, it’s doubtful.
Mr. Hollande has been described as a bland and uninspired candidate, but his election was greatly helped by the abrasive personality of outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr. Sarkozy’s habit of punching babies and kicking voters in the nuts during campaign stops cost him points with both male and female voters and contributed to his loss.
Those psychotic actions aside, Sarkozy’s greatest blunder was his decision to try to make French voters face reality. The country is mired in debt, hasn’t had a balanced budget in 30 years, and its welfare system is bleeding the country white. Ordinary voters were angered by Sarkozy’s demand that they make sacrifices to fix it and preferred to elect the one man who was committed to prolonging the good times as long as possible.