Miriam Leitao at PostGlobal

Miriam Leitao

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Miriam Leitao is a reporter and columnist for O Globo and Radio CBN in Brazil. She is also a commentator on Globo TV Network and runs her own blog, www.miriamleitao.com, hosted at Globo online at www.oglobo.com.br. She was awarded Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize in 2005. Close.

Miriam Leitao

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Miriam Leitao is a reporter and columnist for O Globo and Radio CBN in Brazil. more »

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New Energy at the Ballot Box

What kind of decline are you talking about? France is showing strong commitment to the democratic process, and that process is bearing fruit. This first round of voting has been characterized by many novelties: both winners are from a new generation of politicians, voter turnout was very high, the ultra-right was defeated, a competitive woman made it to the runoff vote, and there was strong support for the centrist candidate. It seems that France is engaged a process of renewing its political elite, rather than doomed to decline.

Look at the Socialist Party, for instance. Its ranks include well-known politicians such as Laurent Fabius and Lionel Jospin, but has taken the risk of choosing a new face over these seasoned veterans – and one from a different gender. Even the candidate from right, Nicolas Sarkozy, represents a renewal of sorts, a candidate with new solutions to old problems.

Another novelty has been the level of support for centrist François Bayrou in a France historically marked by left-right polarization. His strong performance was quite surprising, perhaps showing that France may be looking for a third way. At the same time, the outdated Jean Marie Le Pen – who some years ago made it to the second round of presidential elections – ended in fourth place this year.

French citizens went to the polls mobilized by a reinvigorated democratic process, just one year after the terrible explosion of violence in Paris. The French economy is still the third largest in Europe and includes strong companies, in spite of facing lingering challenges such as a low rate of growth, a lack of competitiveness in the agricultural sector and high unemployment. However, it is not the only European country to have these kinds of problems. With the enthusiasm its citizens are showing for new leaders, it may be the country to offer new approaches to solve them.

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