I have a piece in the dead-tree TIME this week that looks at the election of François Hollande in France and connects it to the democratic revolt happening in Greece. What do they have in common? Both are reactions to the increasingly discredited — or at the very least disliked — austerity policies that have been put in place to fix the euro-zone crisis. That hasn’t happened yet — countries like Italy and Spain are in recession and nations like Greece are in worse straits. In fact, the one thing we know austerity causes is the end of political careers.
Nicolas Sarkozy could tell you that. Sarkozy was the Gallic half of Merkozy, his intra-European partnership with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkozy was the architect of European austerity policies that led to budget cuts and fiscal pain throughout much of Europe — and now Sarkozy has paid the price. French President-elect Hollande won less because of what he is, than what he isn’t. He isn’t Sarkozy, the temperamental conservative with the supermodel wife and ostentatious taste for wealth who polarized France during his five years in the Élysée Palace. And he isn’t a deficit hawk whose first instinct is to cut and then cut some more.