Nightly News | May 06, 2012
LESTER HOLT, anchor: A political tremor in Europe tonight is being felt on both sides of the Atlantic after French voters weary from harsh economic austerity measures bring Nicolas Sarkozy 's presidency to a stunning end. He's the latest in a growing line of European leaders tossed from office in the face of the eurozone's debt crisis. The winner of today's French election , Francois Hollande , a Socialist who has rejected painful cuts as a way out of the crisis. The question tonight is whether that's enough to give a case of the jitters to financial markets on the eve of Monday's openings. We'll get the view from this side of the pond in a moment, but let's begin in Paris with NBC 's Jim Maceda . Jim , good evening.
JIM MACEDA reporting: Good evening, Lester . Well, the French wanted fresh blood, and tonight they got it. Francois Hollande , the leftist who's never held a Cabinet post, is the first Socialist president of France in almost a generation. In the end, it was close, but Hollande held off a late comeback by the conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy . 'We're no longer doomed to face austerity' Hollande told his supporters. But many French tonight would argue that Sarkozy beat himself. 'I bear responsibility,' he said. 'I didn't succeed in making the values we share win.' Middle class French like Dan Blanc-Shapiro and his partner Celine Dowery , both upwardly mobile, voted for Sarkozy in 2007 , before the recession. But like so many others, they grew tired of his brash style, his rich friends, his celebrity wife Carla Bruni at his side. But most of all they rejected the failure of his austerity plan to get France out of its economic doldrums.
Mr. DAN BLANC-SHAPIRO: I can't believe you can lead a country in such tough times when over two-thirds of the country hate him so much.
MACEDA: So today they both voted with their hearts and for Hollande . It was a tough decision.
Ms. CELINE DOWERY: I think he's an honest guy, he's a good guy, but I'm not sure he will be able to run the country.
MACEDA: Hollande has promised to trigger growth and jobs by taxing the wealthy. But many French fear more taxes will mean less growth and more debt. Still, with prices and unemployment steadily on the rise, a majority of French say austerity hasn't worked and have taken a chance on Hollande , known for his tax and spend policies.
Mr. FRANCOIS HEISBOURG (Political Analyst): Hollande carries the promise of a different European economic policy , vis-a-vis the crisis.
MACEDA: A very different style. The ruddy-faced bureaucrat more a consensus builder than Sarkozy , and less pro-American, too. Hollande wants to pull French troops out of Afghanistan this year and feels no instinctive ties to NATO . But it's his economic policies that could rattle international markets come tomorrow while Sarkozy becomes the 11th European leader to fall during the crisis. And tonight's result was echoed today in Greece , Lester , where in legislative elections there, Greeks, fed up with austerity and cutbacks punished the two mainstream parties and turned to an extreme right-wing group opposed to both austerity and immigrants. Now the forecast there isn't good, long and painful negotiations for a new government and then much more instability. Lester :
HOLT: Jim Maceda tonight in Paris