Avertir le modérateur

mardi, 03 juillet 2007

SARKOZY STARTS STRONG

Sarkozy Starts Strong
And the opposition splits--literally.

by Michel Gurfinkiel

medium_Michel_Gurfinkiel_Photo_Alain_Azria.jpg
Hyperpresident--that's what France's leading conservative newspaper, Le Figaro, called Nicolas Sarkozy two weeks ago. Around the same time, the liberal satirical weekly Le Canard enchaîné ran a cartoon featuring a pedalling machine under the president's desk. Caption: "He is even producing energy for the Elysée Palace." Left, right, and center, the sentiment was near universal: Sarkozy means business. He is a doer, and he does things so cleverly that he succeeds.

The new French president's most remarkable achievement so far has been to restore momentum to European affairs. Two years ago, two of the European Union's founding nations, France and the Netherlands, voted down a draft constitution for Europe that would have transformed the present confederation into a federal superstate. The defeat left the EU in total disarray. Some members, like Spain and Italy, had already ratified the constitution and felt betrayed. Some, like the United Kingdom, felt justified in their own skittishness about anything more elaborate than a European free trade zone. The rest started to wonder whether the Union had not reached the point of overstretch. The fact that two more countries--Romania and Bulgaria ("Northern and Southern Ruritania," as a French humorist had it)--joined in the meantime was no real comfort.

Neither was the euro's steady gain against the dollar, hardly helpful in terms of world trade. And other ominous developments loomed: Putin's Russia ratcheted up its bullying of the EU, both its energy delivery blackmail and its posturing over missile defense. A Franco-German crisis at Airbus ended in the sacking of the French CEO, Noël Forgeard, the nomination of a German, Gustav Humbert, to replace him, and the transfer to Hamburg of key operations hitherto located in Toulouse, the avionics capital of southern France.

Numerous plans for reviving the EU had been broached in various quarters. Sarkozy seized on a few of these and combined them in a characteristically smooth package, which he proceeded to sell.

The concept he put forward was a "smaller, leaner treaty." This meant stripping the proposed constitution of everything grandly "constitutional" and concentrating on practical reforms, like the creation of an elected EU presidency to replace the present rotation (the presidency changes hands every six months, and every nation, large or small, gets a turn--clearly unworkable with 27 member countries), or the elimination of the requirement of unanimity for decisions on certain vital matters like security and immigration.

Sarkozy knew he would win the support of German chancellor Angela Merkel, who had supported similar proposals. In addition, the "small treaty" was to be discussed at the European Council (or conference of heads of state or government) to be held in Germany by late June, at the end of Germany's EU presidency.Merkel would look sympathetically on a French initiative that could provide an accomplishment to crown her presidency.

One by one, the other European partners were approached and seduced, including the leaders of the smaller nations that, under Sarkozy's plan, would receive less representation in Brussels than under the defeated draft constitution: Portugal, Spain, and even the redoubtable Poland, currently run by the hypernationalist Kaczynski twins. As for Britain, Sarkozy adroitly exploited the changing of the guard there: Tony Blair could not possibly leave office on a sour note, any more than Gordon Brown could assume it with a declaration of war on the continent. In short order, the "small treaty" was approved. The only puzzle was how such a modest, reasonable compromise could have eluded the EU for so long.

Sarkozy has used similar methods in domestic affairs: simple, no-nonsense proposals, and a lot of face-to-face discussion with all the major players, allowing for adjustments or amendments. Before he left for the European summit, Sarkozy made sure to consult with all political parties leaders, as well as with Ségolène Royal, his socialist opponent for the presidency last May. They all were invited to the Elysée Palace and given red carpet treatment. This was a complete break with the Fifth Republic tradition, according to which foreign affairs is the president's domaine réservé (private domain), not to be shared with the cabinet or even the prime minister--and certainly not with the leaders of the opposition. Just days after being elected, Sarkozy had insisted on meeting in person with union leaders before honing new industrial legislation--again, something no president had ever done. The outgoing president, Jacques Chirac, for instance, always handled such issues by hiding behind his prime minister (Alain Juppé, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, or Dominique de Villepin), who, in turn, usually made sure legislation had been safely passed before engaging in consultations, especially if a bill were likely to spark protest or unrest.

Another feature of Sarkozy's approach is to bring into the cabinet, and thus coopt, as many people from the left or at least the liberal persuasion as possible. He made Bernard Kouchner, the famous founder of Médecins sans frontières and a former Socialist minister of public health, his foreign minister. Then he named Martin Hirsch, chairman of the left-wing Catholic charity Emmaus, high
commissioner for "active solidarity" (emergency help for the poor and homeless). Eric Besson, a former Socialist party secretary for economic affairs, had publicly switched to Sarkozy even before the presidential election; he was rewarded with a junior position in the cabinet. Jean-Marie Bockel, a Socialist senator from Alsace, switched sides in June, and is now in charge of relations with the French-speaking world.

Equally impressive are the president's inroads in the neo-French--that is, immigrant--community. Rachida Dati, a woman in her forties of Moroccan and Algerian descent and an observant, if moderate, Muslim (she fasts during Ramadan), is now minister of justice. Rama Yade, a Senegalese-born civil servant, is deputy foreign minister for human rights. And Fadela Amara, born in an immigrant ghetto to a traditional Kabyle (Berber-speaking) family, who founded the women's rights group Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores Nor Submissives)--Sarkozy has made her his minister for urban affairs.

At first, it was widely assumed that Sarkozy's openness was purely tactical. He knew he had defeated Royal in the presidential election by about six percentage points, and presumably he feared he might not win a working majority in the National Assembly in the elections in June: a well-founded concern, as it turned out, since the right took 314 seats out of 577, an absolute majority, but short of the 400 or 450 seats most pollsters had predicted. In retrospect, though, there is something transparently spontaneous and genial in his behavior. The man everybody loved to hate before and during the campaign--not just the left, but the Chirac crowd as well--is now eager to be friends with everyone, all the more so at a time when his Socialist opponents are riven with animosities.

Throughout the recent presidential and legislative campaigns, the French wondered what exactly was the relationship between the Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal, and her common law husband, François Hollande, the leader of the Socialist party. Royal and Hollande had lived together for more than 25 years and have four children. The fact that they were not legally married was, by Gallic standards, of little consequence. What was notable was that they didn't seem to speak much to each other, and were obviously running separate campaigns, with separate agendas. At times, it even seemed that Hollande resented his companion's candidacy and was surreptitiously undermining it. The most telling incident, in this respect, was his slip of the tongue at the first mass rally of the campaign. As party leader, he had to show enthusiasm for the party's candidate, and he did, except that in his very last sentence, he said that he believed in a complete "Socialist defeat . . . er . . . victory!"

What once was rumor is now established fact, thanks to La femme fatale, by Raphaëlle Bacqué and Ariane Chemin, published between the presidential and legislative elections. Terse and ungossipy (relatively little name dropping, for instance), it asserts that Hollande had left Royal a few years ago for another woman, and that Royal, seeking revenge, had worked hard to become a political leader in her own right. When the book appeared, the couple sued both authors for breach of privacy, an offense that, under French law, includes exposure of intimate matters such as adultery.

Then Royal changed course. On June 17, at precisely 8 P.M., the moment the polls closed in the legislative elections, she publicly acknowledged being separated from Hollande, thus essentially validating Bacqué and Chemin's book. And she made clear she would make a bid for the party's leadership, if necessary against her former companion.

The French were thrilled: Soap opera and politics were meeting at a level not seen since the fall of the monarchy. The media feeding frenzy drowned out even the election returns. And the story goes on. Last weekend, the Socialist old guard--affectionately known as "the elephants"--circled the wagons around Hollande and started to isolate Royal within the party. Royal, however, who won 47 percent of the vote, thinks she has what amounts to a popular mandate. She will fight back. This is very bad news for the left, which may collapse in the process--and very good news for the amiable Sarkozy.

Michel Gurfinkiel is executive chairman of the Jean Jacques Rousseau Institute in Paris.

© Michel Gurfinkiel & The Weekly Standard, 2007

 

http://michelgurfinkiel.com/articles/128-France-Sarkozy-Starts-Strong.html
 
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000...

THE WEEKLY STANDARD
07/09/2007, Volume 012, Issue 40


21:35 Publié dans ACTUALITE | Lien permanent | Commentaires (1)

Commentaires

le discours en forme d'action n'est pas l'action ! elle est usurpation illusion !
Brebis Galeuse

About our president To chat, to say, does not mean doing anything, we are in a kind of awful hypnotism due to media, things gonna change, when people will realise, that being on all the topics, does not mean at all, doing anything, on all this topics, chatting, chatting, chatting so what : the reality ! For a government when u play a game, it is better not to trix people .... With words

Écrit par : Brebis Galeuse | mercredi, 04 juillet 2007

Les commentaires sont fermés.

 
Toute l'info avec 20minutes.fr, l'actualité en temps réel Toute l'info avec 20minutes.fr : l'actualité en temps réel | tout le sport : analyses, résultats et matchs en direct
high-tech | arts & stars : toute l'actu people | l'actu en images | La une des lecteurs : votre blog fait l'actu