Sweden welcomes Sarkozy victory

The victory of Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential election has been welcomed by Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, while Social Democrats expressed concern.

“Given a choice between the centre-right and the left, the French people chose the candidate who gave the clearest policy vision,” said fellow centre-right leader Reinfeldt in a written statement on Sunday night.

Sarkozy was elected in Sunday’s second round of the presidential election with 53 percent of the vote, leaving opponent Ségolène Royal trailing on 47 percent.

“With the choice of Sarkozy, French politics is passing to a new generation. I hope that this means that France will open up for a much needed reform programme, with a focus on jobs, the economy and welfare,” Reinfeldt continued.

“I welcome Sarkozy as president and look forward to a close partnership during the combined periods of our presidencies of the EU. It is my hope that France has gained a constructive voice with the will to drive the European partnership forward,” continued Reinfeldt, who was elected at the head of a centre-right government last September.

The Social Democrats, meanwhile, expressed concern over Sarkozy’s victory. Ann Linde, the party’s international secretary, said that the new French president could put the brakes on Turkish EU membership. She said that this would put Turkey and Sweden on a collision course.

“He has flirted with xenophobic forces. His comments give us reason to believe he does not want Turkey to join the EU” she told news agency TT.

Linde also warned that Sarkozy’s full domestic agenda could lead to him having less energy to deal with all European matters. In broader international questions, she said that Sarkozy had more than any other French politician supported US and British policies, something that could have a significant impact given France’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Praising losing candidate, Socialist Ségolène Royal, Linde said she had once again made the Socialists a force to be reckoned with in French politics. This was the first time in twelve years that the Socialist candidate had got through to the second round of the presidential elections, she said.

“She has also shown that a woman can break through in the hierarchical and male-dominated world of French politics,” she said.