The American Prospect's Yannis Palaiologos dissects Hollande's rise:
Francois Hollande has long made it clear that he will not be the obedient junior partner to Angela Merkel that Nicolas Sarkozy has been. In particular, he has issued calls for a renegotiation of the fiscal compact agreed by 25 out of 27 EU members earlier this year, to make it more growth-friendly. He has insisted that without a supplementary package of pro-growth measures, he will refuse to ratify it. the German chancellor insists that the pact is not negotiable, but Hollande claims to have support for his approach from many European governments, including conservative ones. As he stated in a television appearance last Thursday: “It is not for Germany to decide for the rest of Europe." Even internally, Merkel cannot ratify the fiscal compact without support from the SPD, which, emboldened by Hollande, is demanding a stimulus program for weaker European economies as the price for its support. The fact that Mario Draghi himself, the head of the arch-conservative European Central Bank, spoke, after the first round of voting in France and the resignation of the Dutch prime minister, of the need for a “growth compact” to complement the agreement to tighten fiscal rules is a signal that the eurozone may, finally, be moving in a different direction.
This is not to underestimate the task facing Hollande and the European pro-growth alliance he hopes to lead. A party man without previous governmental experience, he is expected to goad the notoriously stubborn Merkel into a U-turn that, to be meaningful, will need to go beyond a relaxation of the pace of fiscal adjustment. Countries with strong public finances and high competitiveness will need to embrace stimulative short-run policies, which will increase consumption, allow the troubled countries of the periphery to export more and improve growths prospect throughout the continent. They will also have to accept some form of a joint guarantee of the debt of eurozone member-states, to put to bed once and for all market fears about a break up of the euro. The French Socialist must, at the same time, deal with deficits and structural sclerosis at home, the latter an area he has shown little inclination to tackle. It is a tall order but, as things stand, its success may be the eurozone’s last chance.
And Greece is also facing a round of parliamentary elections in the coming weeks as well, which could seriously change the political landscape in that country. We'll see how it pans out, but Hollande is leading in all the polls right now because the French right remains split between Sarkozy and hard right National Party conservative Marine Le Pen. Le Pen in fact has all but publicly said that she wants Hollande to win in order for him to fail so tremendously that she becomes the new de facto leader of the opposition with Sarkozy discredited.
2012 is not just about US elections, after all.