The first round of the French elections is over, with Nicholas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal into the second round.
Are there any lessons we can learn so far?
For a start, the French voted as if politics mattered with a turnout approaching 85%. Of note was that Sarkozy was about 5% ahead of Royal.
The next couple of weeks will be very interesting. They will show whether the French socialists are capable of reaching beyond their core supporters and to the wider nation. At this point it seems that Sarkozy has the easier task, but part of Royal's support as the socialist candidate was based on her appeal to the wider electorate.
The task for progressive political parties the world over is to understand the problems of today and tomorrow, and develop forward-looking policies and apply their values to solve them. The risk is they go backwards, looking back not to timeless values but to expired policies.