In an election restricted to French voters aged 18 to 59, Mme Royal would have won handsomely. M. Sarkozy owes his victory to a "wrinkly" landslide with an overwhelming triumph among French voters in their sixties (61 per cent of the vote) and a jackpot among the over-seventies (68 per cent).This gives the lie to the notion that "economic malaise" and unemployment was the key to Sarkozy's victory in the recent French presidential election, although this remains the standard American interpretation of the election (in addition to going on and on about Sarkozy being "pro-American"). That is, the younger age bracket that voted overwhelmingly for Royal is also the age bracket that ostensibly suffers from the "economic malaise," not the retirees who voted for Sarkozy. The older age bracket, however, is the group that is most worried about France's identity and immigration problems. Sarkozy, in the end, was most appealing to those who prefer "France for the French."
Here's a terrific summary by Bernard Chazelle at Rootless Cosmopolitan of the roots and meaning of the recent election. Much more enlightening than anything in the mainstream US press.