There haven’t been any parades through the streets of the Bastille, but the French populace seems to be content with the re-election of Barack Obama to the American presidency. After months of close examination of the candidates and the electoral process, the Parisians have tuned in regularly to watch the progression of the campaigns.
Though Mitt Romney has lived in France and is quite fluent in French, it was still Obama who had the popular support of the people in the streets of Paris, most of whom remembered the dark days of the Bush administration and wanted to see their American hero triumph again.
However, as in the United States, recent French elections have shown extraordinary trends toward the conservative parties. People have been showing ever-growing support for Romney’s vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and the head of the French party “Front National” Marine Le Pen (during the recent presidential elections in France).
According to various French professors and specialists who analyzed the campaigns and debates, Romney had a strong following for a number of reasons and ultimately was the more impressive candidate after the string of presidential debates. Former CEO of Ipsos (a private think-tank devoted to media and marketing) Pierre Giacometti discussed both candidates’ performance in the first debates, saying that Romney was cool and direct, while Obama was more arrogant.
Still, the French public seemed to overwhelmingly favor the winning candidate.
The ever-changing polls after each debate kept France on the edge of its seat until the very end, although the turmoil around the “swing states” gave rise to more questions than answers, as the French electoral system differs greatly from its American cousin. Visiting Columbia professor Gregory Wawro commented that national polls get “too much attention, as in the end, the results of only a handful of smaller states and localized regions with their own traditional roots” will play the pivotal role in tipping the scales toward one candidate or the other.
The end of the race was close indeed, and on Wednesday morning the French daily newspapers all circulated triumphant images of Obama amidst the patriotic confetti. The publication Libération posted its cover for Thursday with a smiling Obama, hands behind his head in relaxed pose with the simple caption, “YES!” François Holland, the current president of France, had given Obama his support weeks ago but solidified the ties between leaders with a congratulatory letter that morning, complete with a hand-scrawled “Cher Barack” above the formal text.