Francois Hollande's victory has given hope to many of us on the left that the European public are deeply unhappy with the policies of austerity that many of our governments have chosen to pursue.
Yet in order for this to be the year that austerity is assigned to history in most major economies apart from our own (I don't think the Liberal Democrats have the chutzpah to withdraw from the coalition), it is essential that Barack Obama defeats Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential election.
While there are many aspects of President Obama's tenure that sit uncomfortably with those on the left, particularly in relation to foreign policy and his close ties with Wall Street, he has been the only leader of a major Western economy to take the right measures to prevent a recession from becoming a depression. History has vindicated his decision to bail out the American auto mobile industry, and the only question marks that hover over his stimulus package are that it may have not gone far enough.
Paul Ryan's budget for 2013, which Mitt Romney has endorsed, would see the poorest suffer a broad range of cuts in public services to fund another round of tax cuts on the rich. You would think that the Republicans had learnt from Dubya's tenure that you cannot cut taxes while waging two expensive wars, but it appears they are set on invading Iran and cutting taxes on the 1%.
Here are some examples of the programs that would be cut if Romney became President:
That is one of many reasons why it is hard to overstate the importance of President Obama defeating Mitt Romney this November.
So, how should we interpret the results of the French election, within the context of the 2012 U.S. Presidential election?
Either the result means:
(a) Electing Hollande is an indicator that the French public are now anti-austerity. The election results in Greece would appear to confirm this being the case and would be very good news for President Obama.
It means that the electorate see austerity measures as self-defeating and he can use them as an example of what will happen to the American economy if Mitt Romney comes to power and implements a plan of severe deficit reduction.
(b) Electing Hollande and getting rid of Sarkozy was an anti-incumbency vote. Whoever is in power during these difficult economic times, regardless of political ideology, is going to be voted out of government because they are having to take unpopular measures and are failing to kick start their economy.
Which means that unless unemployment dips at least another 2% over the next six months, President Obama could be in real trouble because the anti-incumbent mood means he has a far greater chance of losing the 2012 election, regardless of how effective a campaign Mitt Romney runs.
Time will tell which of the two theories turns out to be right, but if it turns out to be the latter, President Obama could be in danger of becoming a one-term President.