He told us what he thinks his election is about:

"The French have chosen to break with the ideas, habits and behavior of the past. I will restore the value of work, authority, merit and respect for the nation."

A staggering 85 percent of voters turned out. It's too early to know if Sarkozy really will tackle France's welfare state and alienated Arab immigrants, and the EU's sclerosis. And much will depend on the looming parliamentary elections. But Sarko is as close to a classical liberal in economics as you are likely to find in 21st century European elites, and hope springs eternal. Sarko is not the racist caricature that some have painted. He's to the "left" of Segolene, for example, in favoring affirmative action for racial minorities. But he does symbolize a France unashamed of itself, its culture, and its resistance to the Islamist wave sweeping immigrant communities as well as allied Arab countries. The Guardian gets it mainly right:

The French have not voted in a man they particularly like. Ségolène Royal came across as a better person. But France has voted in a president it feels it needs. It has unequivocally decided that the cure for 12 years of drift is a sharp swing to the right, and this is exactly what it is going to get.

My gut tells me to expect more from Sarko rather tha less. In foreign policy, that's almost entirely a good thing. Sarko is not a visceral anti-American, unlike many of his peers. In that sense, we have gained a new and stronger ally in the war against Islamism. Now to make that war more effective and intelligent.

(Photo: Protestors throw garbage on a street in the southern town of Toulouse, to demonstrate against the presidential election victory of right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy. By Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty.)