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Sarkozy, it's over

Tens of thousands of people gather in Bastille Square to celebrate the defeat of the incumbent French president.
Last modified: 7 May 2012 03:54

"We've been free since 8pm," a young man on the Paris metro declared, as he was heading to the Bastille Square to celebrate Francois Hollande's victory in France's presidential runoff.

After the announcement was made on state television, tens of thousands of people flocked to the iconic square - a symbol of the French revolution.

Dancing, chanting, waving flags and drinking beer - voters celebrated the victory as if they were in a rock festival.

And just as much as the party was about victory, it was about defeat of the incumbent president.

The chant "Sarkozy, c'est fini" echoed through the air - Sarkozy, it's over.

To see what was going on at the stage, where Hollande gave his second victory address after flying into the capital from his home town, Tulle, people climbed lamp posts and bus stops. Red scarves and roses - the symbol of the Socialist party - dotted the square.

One girl described the election of France's first socialist president since 1995 as a revolution, "a new page of history".

But others, like Yann Guinatimo, an unemployed lorry driver, were more measured. "I hope things will improve, but we’ll have to see if Hollande’s actions match his promises," he said. "Sarkozy also made a lot of promises in 2007 and he didn’t deliver.

"I hope that Francois Hollande will improve social welfare and boost the economy. "

Denys Tortochot, a court clerk, was more certain that his situation will change under the next president.

"I feel really good and reassured because we are getting away from fascism and far-right ideas," he said. "I am gay and I will earn the right to marry."

The Bastille Square was the location of the notorious Bastille prison, which was stormed on July 14, 1789, triggering the start of the French Revolution.

Caroline Chapelle didn't go to the square to party, but got caught up in the crowds. And although she described herself as right-wing, she said she was pleased with the election results.

"In 2007, I voted for Sarkozy, but this time I voted Hollande to get rid of him [Sarkozy]. I don’t like his personality," she said. "He behaves in a dictatorial way, he doesn’t consult his government. I think Francois Hollande will be fair and straight, he won’t play dirty tricks."