Solutions For Grandeur
September 9, 2005 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Solutions For Grandeur Nicolas Sarkozy has become the most popular French politician by diving headfirst into the country’s most explosive political issues. If he has his way, this hyperactive, pro-American, Gaullist, free marketer will transform French politics for good. via
posted by Kwantsar (18 comments total)
Sounds like a Neo-con.
posted by delmoi at 10:53 PM on September 9, 2005

Sarko = tool.
posted by Wolof at 12:58 AM on September 10, 2005

Whatever his political opinions (that could often be described as opportunist verging on populist) Sarkozy has certainly a charismatic, frank presence that is lacking in his more technocratic political colleagues. On the down side, he doesn't seem a model of emotional stability. French political careers span decades, alternating periods of success with long stretches of "desert crossing" as it is called here and many flashy young politicians haven't made it.

In any case, Sarkozy will be remembered for the heated exchange he had with muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan about the stoning of women (Ramadan's brother had publicly supported it):

Ramadan: About the stoning of women, I have made the point, very precisely, that this is not applicable, and because I know that my position is a minority one in the muslim world, I have called for a moratorium so that muslims can have a real debate about it.
Sarkozy: A moratorium? Mr Ramadan, do you realise what you're saying? A moratorium? This means that for some time people will refrain from stoning women? (...). What you just said is quite incredible, you just said that stoning women, well, that's a little bit shocking, so that what is needed is simply a moratorium and then people will think about it and decide whether or not it's a good thing.
(full transcript in French here)
posted by elgilito at 1:13 AM on September 10, 2005

I notice many American and British conservatives creaming their pants at the prospect of a Sarkozy presidency. I'd say to them: Beware. Sarkozy is not a neo-con, he's above all an opportunist. If you look at his substantial policy stances, you'll see that in the only thing in which he clearly differs from Chirac is in that he opposes Turkey's accession to the EU. As it happens, this is the matter in which Chirac and Bush agree.

In fact, Sarkozy reminds me above all of Jacques Chirac 15 years ago. This should not be surprising: after all, they come very much from the same stable. Sarkozy was for a long time Chirac's protégé, and even the boyfriend of Chirac's darling daughter (and chief political advisor) Claude. Then he dumped the daughter and campaigned against the father, giving rise to an animosity that goes well beyond the political. It is not a coincidence that the fact that his marriage is currently in the doldrums is producing much Schadenfreude in the Chirac camp, not only because Sarkozy used to campaign with his attractive, successful wife...
posted by Skeptic at 1:31 AM on September 10, 2005

BTW, sometime French state interventionism has its good sides.
posted by Skeptic at 1:36 AM on September 10, 2005

not only because Sarkozy used to campaign with his
attractive, successful wife...

And he looked like a zombie in recent pictures.

It's not the first time that a French politician tries US-style, US-inspired politics, usually with little success. Jean "vaguely rings a bell if you're over 40" Lecanuet and Alain "pseudo libertarian dancing with cheerleaders" Madelin come to mind.
posted by elgilito at 2:05 AM on September 10, 2005

Well, I think there was one French politician who tried US-style, US-inspired politics with great success: a certain Jacques Chirac...
posted by Skeptic at 2:24 AM on September 10, 2005

Sarkozy is a very different animal from Chirac.

Chirac, while corrupt and rightwing to the core, is nevertheless a genuine Frenchman, and a good orator. When he stands up and speaks of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, there is a sense that he understands these things, that he is sincere about them.

Sarkozy cannot do that.

Sarkozy despises Egalité, he has no sense at all of Fraternité, and the only form of Liberté that interests him is the liberty of the rich to take money from the poor.

Sarkozy is very intelligent, and appears to deeply enjoy causing pain to others. Promoting racial division is his speciality (banning headscarves in schools, for example), and he's clever enough to do it without looking like a racist bigot.

If Sarkozy gets his way, France will have her social security system destroyed, and life for French people will become more and more like life in the USA, with a similar sense of caring, planning, and protecting the poor to that seen recently in New Orleans.
posted by cleardawn at 3:11 AM on September 10, 2005

Promoting racial division is his speciality (banning headscarves in schools, for example)
Note in this particular case that the headscarf ban was voted by 494 French MPs with 36 opposing it. The consensus about this covers the entire political spectrum and a left-wing government would have taken a similar decision. Sarkozy's personal stance on immigration can be criticised, but the headscarf ban is a separate issue.
posted by elgilito at 3:38 AM on September 10, 2005

From the article:

To remedy France’s tepid growth, he has proposed lower taxes and a relaxation of the 35-hour workweek.

I love this use of words. Forcing people to work longer hours for the same salary becomes 'relaxation'. Lower taxes - leading, sans doute, to further cuts in health care - are a "remedy".

You've got to admire the right. When they want to tell lies, they do it in style.
posted by cleardawn at 3:42 AM on September 10, 2005

elgilito, I think Sarkozy's handling of the headscarves issue shows how dangerously intelligent he is. He made such a good political case for it that few politicians dared to oppose him.

Nevertheless, the result (as intended) has been that Muslims have another reason to be angry at non-Muslims, and vice versa. Al-Qaeda have used it in their propaganda as evidence that the West is trying to destroy Islam. This was predictable. Sarkozy knew exactly what he was doing.
posted by cleardawn at 3:45 AM on September 10, 2005

Looking at Sarkozy's actions, rather than his words, it's difficult to avoid concluding that his goal is to provoke something like the September 11 attacks in France.

An ambitious, ruthless politician can use such a disaster in many profitable ways, as we have seen in the US. And even Sarkozy's best friend cannot deny that he is both ruthless and ambitious, to an degree that is unusual, even for a politician.
posted by cleardawn at 4:24 AM on September 10, 2005

Cleardawn: the headscarf issue has been a hot button issue since 1989 and the question of its regulation had been on everybody's mind for a while. Teachers, who form a large part of the socialist party's troops, had been overwhelmingly in favour of it. That the Chirac government used it for political gain is obvious, but so did the Socialists (and the Socialist group asked for the law).

As for the intended results, we should keep in mind that the headscarf is to fundamentalist muslim organisations what creationism is to fundamentalist american christian ones: a false, made-up debate that they use to gain supporters outside their user base (in increasingly secular environments that threatens directly their raison d'etre). Al-Qaeda may use the law in its propaganda, but it would equally use the absence of law as a proof of the efficiency of its fight against the West's moral corruption. It's win-win for them. However, the fact that the law produced a very few number of incidents so far proves the French muslim population has been more willing to stick to the country's laws than to follow the edicts of foreign preachers.

it's difficult to avoid concluding that his goal is to provoke something like the September 11 attacks in France.
This is verging on conspiracy theory...
posted by elgilito at 5:18 AM on September 10, 2005

"If Sarkozy gets his way, France will have her social security system destroyed, and life for French people will become more and more like life in the USA, with a similar sense of caring, planning, and protecting the poor to that seen recently in New Orleans."

The French social security/welfare system is doomed due to demographics (too many old, too few babies). So, unless you would like France to turn into Grece bis (Greece II), I would suggest you come up with some new plan, or reappraise NS.

France is on the road to economic and social ruin. Its political life is a joke (only France is smaller than the US, so the joke is dismissed or not noticed).

France lives in the past, politically. And politically, the place feels something like student government, or perhaps, the current primary race (D) in NYC for mayor. A joke, a joke, a joke!

Whatever objections you might have to NS, they would be moderated by the inertia of the rest of the political system.

So, I would love to see NS gagne. Whatever his flaws, he would shake things up a bit: a step in the right direction.

Also, NS actually said positive things about Israel. Amazing.

PS: it's hard to see how lopping off a few cents from the $5 or $7 petrol is an argument for Big Government.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:18 AM on September 10, 2005

ParisParamus writes "France is on the road to economic and social ruin."

As opposed to the United States, which recently proved just how well it could respond to the most absolutely basic and elementary duties of government?
posted by clevershark at 8:37 AM on September 10, 2005

Remember foulks: Ignore PP. Thanks.
posted by delmoi at 12:40 PM on September 10, 2005

The only point I'd like to make is that American profiles (especially those of the right-of-center variety) often pose Sarkozy as an outsider, a Pro-American, and a maverick. He is none of those things, he comes from almost the exact same background as most French politicians, has been in politics almost his whole life, and is not at all Pro-American other then when it might benefit his political chances. The only thing maverick about him is that he likes to be confrontational in a very slightly different way then most French pols.

It may be true that he would 'shake things up' for a short period, but it wouldn't be the type of shaking that benefits anyone but Sarkozy himself.
posted by cell divide at 4:03 PM on September 10, 2005

So the Vichy are still around? Even civilized countries have their nuts. Thankfully they are seldom "elected" to leadership like in the US.
posted by nofundy at 3:42 PM on September 11, 2005

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