But Hollande has campaigned on plans to incorporate elements of growth into the austerity mandate, an idea bolstered by support from Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank, who has suggested a "growth compact" for Europe. Across Europe, even some adherents to austerity are beginning to question it as a solution to the economic crisis. So when Hollande promises a “new direction for Europe,” as he did in his only debate with Sarkozy on May 2, the promise may be more than rhetorical, analysts say.
“We are entering a period where all cards are not yet on the table, where various conflicting logics in Europe, economic and social, are testing each other,” says Karim Emile Bitar, senior fellow at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations in Paris. “We are approaching a fault line: How much austerity can growth proponents accept, and vice versa?”
A Hollande victory would not take place in vacuum. Anger and frustration with austerity is rising across the continent, as seen in marches in Prague and Madrid, pushback from some of the austerity model's former strongest backers (like the prime minister of Spain), the collapse of the ruling coalition in the Netherlands, dissent among leading German politicians, and the general angst in Italy, Greece, Ireland, and Portugal.