French papers celebrate the reawakening of French interest in national politics following Sunday's high voter turnout for the first round of the presidential election.
Two dailies see the near record turnout as erasing the memory of 2002 when huge numbers abstained and a high vote for extremists led to National Front leader Jean-Marie le Pen qualifying for the second round.
After so many years of mistrust... we have had this record turnout, this democratic tidal wave and the qualifying of [Segolene] Royal and [Nicolas] Sarkozy which ensures that the second round is one of a clear choice. This is like a wiping out of 21 April 2002 so that no-one can say that the future is being built in spite of us.
This is like a celebration of democracy and a correction of the nightmare of 21 April 2002. France has pulled itself together... The polls had said for months and months that the French wanted a battle between the champions of the two great political forces of this country: Sarkozy and Royal. It will indeed take place.
In short, we're back to where we were at the start of the campaign. Except for one excellent piece of news. The French voted en masse. The passion of the campaign was transformed into passion in the polling booths. And that must count as a major advance for French democracy.
What was the surprise in the first round of the 2007 presidential election? It was that there was... no surprise! Segolene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy will thus be up against each other in the second round... A new campaign is beginning... And this fight promises to be a rough one.
France has saved the Left... France invented the Right-Left configuration during the Revolution... It has decided it is still a useful tool in a world where the issues of society and individual freedom in the face of the powers that be remain the two great markers of human rights.
LE NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR
Nicolas Sarkozy did not waste any time. Barely half an hour after the official results, he was setting out the tone and the broad themes of his second-round campaign... The man who, only a few days ago, was admitting he had a cast-iron conviction that paedophiles and suicides carried particular genes... transformed himself into the bard of social division.
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