Hard times for Sarko, le Roi de France
By Gaither Stewart
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 19, 2007, 01:48

Hard times for the hard-nosed, hard-playing president of France, Nicolas Paul St�phane Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa, or more familiarly �Sarko� for both friends and foes. Only five months into his term, the powerful French trade unions called out a nationwide general strike on October 18 against Sarkozy�s proposed pension reforms; his beloved wife, Cecilia, signed divorce papers on October 15; and the week before France lost out miserably in the world rugby championship hosted by Sarkozy and France.

Sarko had a dream: to become president of France. His dream came true last May 16 when he was crowned Chief of State. Paving the way for the electoral victory of the 52-year old leader of the French Right were the simultaneous decomposition of the French Left and Sarkozy�s successful unification of the three streams of the Right -- neoliberal, national and fascist.

His hard language, without alientating the Center, attracted the necessary voters from the extreme Right, which however tended to consider him its ally, if not hostage. The combination of Right and Center guaranteed his victory. Though he heads the Gaulist UMP (Union Pour un Mouvement Populaire), his Gaulist roots are today less and less evident. Sarkozy and his cohorts appear more as populists concealed behind a market oriented conservative fa�ade.

When Sarkozy became �Monsieur le President de la Republique,� the 23rd French chief of state, the sixth since the new Constitution of 1958 that initiated the Fifth Republic of France, his true intentions for promised new directions were still ambiguous. Was he a neo-Gaulist, one speculated, or truly a hostage of the extreme Right that swept him into office? In his first presidential speech Sarkozy emphasized the roles of his predecessors, beginning with Charles De Gaulle whose tradition he allegedly embodies, referring to the French as �a great people with a great history behind them.�

His electoral slogan of �work more, earn more� rang appealingly at first. Now, though the love for money is strong in France, the slogan seems contradictory to his recognition of new exigences for national devlopment along social lines. In fact, no successful European leader can neglect the social system inherent in Europe�s DNA, which differs radically from the American spirit. That is especially true in France, with its reputation of listening more to ideological voices than to entrepreneurial demands. Therefore, the scorn for the stupid words of one Minister of Economy �to work more and think less,� which reflects the US reality.

On the other hand, Sarkozy�s underlining of great national objectives means distancing France from the spirit of liberal free trade.

The French Left accuses Sarkozy of being authoritarian and of unstable character. The Left�s electoral campaign early this year aimed at trying to rouse his ire and demonstrate his incapacity of leading la douce France. The crude reality is that while the French Left claims a monopoly on morality, the political Right dominates this largely conservative, extremely traditional nation.

Patriotic voters of 2007 were in fact less interested in morality than in questions of the French image in Europe and France�s role on the international scene. Many French people are still attached to the dream that France still plays a universal role, even though most at the same time realize it is a fiction. Though they killed their kings, they still miss them.

Globalization has forced France to redefine its international role, which French people expect the political class to do. Sarkozy responds best to that demand; he has overcome right-wing moral hang-ups vis-a-vis the Left; he has invaded Left territory, coupling nationalism with calls for fraternit� and solidarit�, those slogans the French love, a stand against inequality and abuses of capitalism and in favor of weaker classes.

On the other hand, he immediately changed France�s position toward the USA that his predecessor Chirac had largely snubbed. He has made known his admiration for the American government model: a cabinet of only 15 ministers. Also, he takes the time to take off his tie and join 1�ami George for a barbecue in Maine, so that he has gained another nickname, 1�Americain.

At the same time, he has abandoned traditional French orientation toward the Arab world in favor of closer relations with Israel. This despite the Socialist charge that his choice is because he is Jewish and because of the strong pre-electoral preference for him by France�s 600,000 Jews, especially among intellectuals such as Alain Finkielkraut. In fact, Sarkozy is Catholic, although his maternal grandfather was a converted Jew.

The so-called �Europe skeptics� are strong in France, as in Italy. The category is widely admired by the French who voted against the European Constitution last year. Like many Europeans, they believe the dramatic rise in the cost of living is due to the euro currency and the stringent EU economic rules considered damaging to the national economy. Sarkozy reacted by calling a halt to fiscal restrictions imposed by the EU in favor of the national economy which is now marking record deficits.

Sarkozy�s France is today more projected toward Europe than in recent years. On the other hand, and again in response to his electors� expectations, although Sarkozy promises good relations with the USA, France is not about to be servile to Washington.

Who is Nicolas Sarkozy?

Sarkozy is an outsider; for some, not truly French. The son of Hungarian political emigrants who fled Budapest after Soviet tanks crushed the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, as often happens with immigrants, he is more French than the French themselves.

Sarkozy, who allegedly began dreaming of the presidency at age 20, is today the champion of the French �democratic� Right. He is known as a tough man. I happened to be in Paris during the upheaval in the banlieues in November of 2005 when Interior Minister Sarkozy, already into his electoral campaign, was seen daily storming over the streets of the northern suburb of Seine Saint-Denis and at the same time speaking of the end of the French social model in order to justify the market economy model. In fact, he and his conservatives were accused of fanning the fires of revolt in order to justify refocusing the state based on police repression.

True or not, Sarko is the archtype of the man of power, a man thirsty for victory. For Sarkozy, immigrants are a plague, second class citizens, and their children are the �bastards of the Republic.� During the uprising of the children of immigrants in the banlieues, Sarkozy over and over labeled them �the scum of society.�

The philosopher Michel Onfray, who interviewed him before the elections, labels him also �fragile and infantile, a lonely and unhappy child in search of love.� Sarkozy himself, who as the tough minister of the Interior was known as �the policeman of France,� confessed that he was in politics in order to be loved. Onfray claims that Sarkozy �is projected toward the future, doesn�t know the present and rejects the past. He took his victory for granted. He seemed to me more like Nero than Napoleon.�

This unflattering image of the new French president is underscored by the image of the French president depicted by the major Moroccan-French writer, Tahar Ben Jelloun. In the writer�s view, Sarkozy heads the part of France eager to break with the France long known as a haven for exiles and immigrants and the downtrodden of the world.

Sarkozy�s friends are magnates of media chains. Not at all embarrassed by egoism, and even betrayal, Sarkozy enters the club of the neo-fascist ex-president of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar, of Gianfranco Fini and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy. He claims friendship with George Bush and Vladimir Putin, with whom he shares only the love for power. His closest friends are France�s richest tycoons, the top managers of industrial and media conglomerates.


From the start, President Sarkozy promised to change France, renew institutions, introduce more women into his cabinet, and crush extreme rightists by absorbing them. At the same time, he tends to back legislation to recognize the widely debated question of the benefits of French colonialization in Africa and Asia. Pro-Sarkozy intellectuals demand an end to �anti-white racism� and they support US wars in the Middle East.

Meanwhile unease and discontent are surfacing among opponents, in the corridors of government, as well as in his own UMP party. Both Left and Right are dissatified, perhaps perplexed about the precise direction France under HyperSarko is taking. Ugliness is emerging from the seams. Neoliberlism, that is the role of unfettered market forces, is distasteful in France, as it is among the peoples in much of Western Europe. Sarkozy�s problem is an old one: his attempt to satisfy everyone satisfies no one. Elected by the Right, he has frequently appeared as a leftist reformer to his electors.

All in all, Sarko comes across as a neocon driven by the concept of a UN-led One World Order, still retaining however a resistant strain of European social mentality in his DNA. In his recent address to the UN General Assembly filled with references to France�s past revolutionary ideals such as equitable distribution of wealth, he said also that the United Nations should be an instrument for a �new world order.�

His direct association with the highly secretive, European-North American Bilderberg Group, one of the world�s most powerful political-economic organizations accused of wanting to determine the direction of the world behind closed doors, is unclear. He was invited to the annual hush-hush Bilderberger gathering held in Canada in 2006 while he was still Interior minister. Sarkozy�s presence on the guest list was revealed prior to the meeting and the Bilderbergers tend to disinvite those whose names are made public beforehand. His friend and a former French foreign minister, Michele Barnier, attended the meeting in Istanbul last June where over 130 powerful persons, including each year American neocons led by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, queens and kings, multinational CEO�s and chairmen and adminstrators, NATO representatives, who most likely spoke of an invasion of Iran, or, who knows? since it was a top secret gathering, perhaps a massive false-flag, in-house terror attack.

Searching the French web on Sarkozy�s relations with the fascist-like Bilderberg Group, I ran into an entry concerning his work tactics which in turn reflect his character. On his arrival in the presidential palace, Sarkozy organized his own press service manned by journalism and political science students in order to keep an eye on what is happening in the country and to react immediately, showering the media with mulitple communiqu�s. A unique press service dedicated to one subject: Nicoloas Sarkozy.

Gaither Stewart is originally from Asheville, NC. After studies at the University of California at Berkeley and other American universities, he has lived his adult life abroad, in Germany and Italy, alternated with residences in The Netherlands, France, Mexico, Argentina and Russia. After a career in journalism as Italian correspondent for the Rotterdam newspaper, Algemeen Dagblad, and contributor to media in various European countries, he writes fiction full-time. His books, "Icy Current Compulsive Course, To Be A Stranger" and "Once In Berlin" are published by Wind River Press. His new novel, "Asheville," is published by He lives with his wife, Milena, in Rome, Italy. E-mail:

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