France: Post-election rioting continues

Nicolas Sarkozy’s election as France's President set off fresh waves of protests in Paris on Monday night. Several hundred people protesting against the victory of the centre-right leader smashed shop windows and started fires in the capital.

Riot police tried to chase the youths, who were chanting anti-Sarkozy slogans, away from the Place de la Bastille where the protest began.

Around 35 people were detained and there were several clashes between the protestors and police.

Riot police tried to chase the youths, who were chanting anti-Sarkozy slogans, away from the Place de la Bastille where the protest began.

Around 35 people were detained and there were several clashes between the protestors and police.

Meanwhile, a day after his resounding election victory Nicolas Sarkozy is reported to be taking a short break in Malta. He is thought to be using the trip to consider the formation of his government as he prepares to replace Jacques Chirac next week.

Sarkozy reportedly plans to stay out of the public eye until he officially takes office on May 16.

The newly-elected President of France is already planning a package of pro-market and anti-crime reform. Among those are tax cuts and increased productivity – all designed to get France's stagnating economy back on its feet. Mr Sarkozy is also intending to pay close attention to dealing with immigrants, by creating a so-called Ministry of National Identity – a move labelled by some of his rivals as discriminative.

In terms of foreign affairs, Mr Sarkozy is expected to side with the U.S. in the debate over the controversial missile defence system in Eastern Europe – a move that could cool relations between Russia and France. In a speech most often quoted by analysts, Sarkozy is unambiguous: he would develop relations with the United States rather than Russia.

Kira Zueva, senior researcher at the European Studies Center of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, said, “I believe he won't be an anti-Russian politician, and he will be seeking co-operation  on various issues.”

Observers in Moscow believe that above all Sarkozy is a pragmatist.

“Sarkozy is supported by large companies and big businesses who want to invest in the Russian economy and to take an actively anti-Russian position would lose him support,” stated Evgenia Obichkina from the Institute of Foreign Affairs.

And it is not just the finances that are predicted to be the glue of Russian-French relations. Strong historic ties are undeniable, and they cannot be broken by a change in leadership.

“The relations between our two countries, Russia and France, cannot be broken down quickly – and not by one man,” Ms Zueva stressed.

But first of all, Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy will focus on gaining a majority in Parliament for his party, the UMP, in next month's parliamentary elections. If the new France's President ends up having to share power with both the left and the centre, he may have problems pushing through his reforms.