French socialists almost certain to win in National Assembly vote
The biggest question that the ascension of socialists to total power in France that will best asked is, will the fiscal crackup occur over a period of years, or will the confluence of events elsewhere in Europe bring down the French economy more quickly?
The elections come after a hasty new bailout for Spanish banks, and the same day as crucial voting in Greece. The Greek elections may determine whether the country stays in the euro, with repercussions for all the other 16 countries that use the joint currency.
After budget-tightening in France under Sarkozy that leftists warned would send France back into recession, Hollande is pushing for government-sponsored stimulus to encourage growth - and has met opposition from German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the two try to stem Europe's crisis.
Hollande's Socialist government has pledged to reduce the deficit, but markets are worried about higher spending when France's debts are so high.
Hollande, a moderate and mainstream leftist who is committed to European unity, is hoping to get an absolute majority of 289 seats for the Socialists to avoid having to make concessions to the Euro-skeptic far left.
Claire Morel said she voted for the Socialist candidate in her well-off Paris district "because I've been waiting for change for a long time. ... Also I wanted to support Frnacois Hollande, the government and its projects."
Pascal Albe, a voter from the working class Paris suburb of Ivry-sur-Seine, said that though he generally votes for the right, Hollande should have a Socialist-led parliament. "Otherwise the country will be paralyzed, and especially now, we don't need that," he said.
It seems that the assembly will probably be further left than Mr. Hollande might want. And that's saying something. While the question above was tongue in cheek, there is a real danger that Hollande's "stimulus" won't accomplish much and cause French goverment bond interest rates to soar. This would exacerbate the budget deficit even further and put French banks on even shakier ground.
Hollande's crapshoot stimulus could make budget cutting even more painful than it would have been when the piper has to be paid.