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
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.
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.
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.�
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.
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.
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.
�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.
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.
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.�
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.�
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
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.
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
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.
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 www.Wastelandrunes.com
He lives with his wife, Milena, in Rome, Italy. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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