Monday, May 7, 2007
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My bold prediction about Sarkozy
Nicholas Sarkozy will be the next French President. The Economist spells out what this means:
By sheer drive and political cunning, Mr Sarkozy managed to build up an electoral machine, through the party that Mr Chirac originally founded, and reinvent himself—30 years after entering electoral politics—as a force for change.In a prediction that I believe Kevin Drum would label as, "Drezner says the sun will rise in the East tomorrow," I'm not terribly optimistic about Sarkozy's chances for reform implementation. Craig Smith put it nicely in yesterday's NYT Week in Review:
In the months leading up to today’s presidential voting in France, there was a lot of talk about breaking with the past. Don’t bet it will happen.[But what about Franco-American relations? Sarkozy has made repeated statements expressing his fondness for most things American!!--ed.] Yes, why, Sarkozy is clearly the most pro-American French president since.... Jacques Chirac, who when elected president stressed his fondness for America, developed after he worked in the States.
My guess is that Sarkozy will adopt more anti-American rhetoric -- regardless of U.S. foreign policy -- right around the time his first major domestic reform effort shuts down the streets of Paris.posted by Dan on 05.07.07 at 09:18 AM
I cannot of course comment on France as a whole, but as I mentioned at my blog today ( http://www.di2.nu/200705/07.htm ), here on the Riviera we have yet another SNCF strike and people seem pretty annoyed by the fact that they (we) can't rely on public transport.
I don't know whether there is enough support but I do think that a lot of people are sick and tired of the unions strikes and protests. Assuming Sarko prepares properly I could imagine him gaining significant support if he used the "Karcher" on the trades union leaders.posted by: Francis on 05.07.07 at 09:18 AM [permalink]
Your "bold" prediction, like the piece in yesterday's NYT, is the conventional wisdom on the subject. Perhaps it will turn out to be accurate. But it was probably also the conventional wisdom in May 1979, when Mrs. Thatcher took over. Like her, Sarko has a very clear view of what he wants to accomplish, and why he thinks his proposed changes are essential in the French national interest. But it's even more unlikely that Sarko will fail in bringing about any of the major changes he has been pushing. In 1979, the British unions were militant, too, but met their match in the Iron Lady. Granted, the parliamentary system gave her a freer hand and she accomplished only a part of what she set out to do. But just as Thatcherism has defined British politics since 1979, Sarko seems determined to leave a deep mark on France; over the last few months he has been at pains to spell out the details of how he intends to do that. When he said in his victory speech that France has voted for change, he certainly sounded like a leader who to shake up a status quo that no longer works, and is willing to do what it takes to deliver. This is one instance where I think the conventional wisdom will be proved wrong.posted by: RHD on 05.07.07 at 09:18 AM [permalink]
It's very possible that Sarko might "grow" or "shrink" in the job. Certainly the 1979 Tory manifesto was cautious compared to what actually followed; The manifesto promised a little bit of privatization, a little cut in income tax, a little increase in indirect taxes, a little bit of curbing the unions. But we very quickly got a lot of all the above in the UK.
Of course, politicians also go the other way; Ted Heath in 1970 produced a very similar election manifesto to Thatcher'a 1979 effort and then pulled back after a rough economic stretch in 71-72.
I think part of Sarko's problem is that he may not have diagnosed France's troubles accurately. I'm hearing a lot about tax cuts and streamlining social programs, when what France really needs isn't fiscal reform, it's regulatory reform -- liberalizing workplace rules, hiring and firing, making it easier bureaucratically to start a business, maybe a right to work law and so on.posted by: DB on 05.07.07 at 09:18 AM [permalink]
Daniel, you disappoint me. But then again, most people who become professors lose their imaginations and succumb to groupthink, so I suppose I should not be so surprised.
Those things between your legs are called something, perhaps you can look it up.posted by: William Rutledge on 05.07.07 at 09:18 AM [permalink]
He's gonna get along great with President Romney. I can't wait.posted by: CPT Mike Foley, USAR on 05.07.07 at 09:18 AM [permalink]
Last night on France2 one of Sarkozy’s closest advisors laid out a number of measures that he intends to push through immediately after he takes office. The first concerns the 35 day work week .In and of itself that will make a big difference in they things are run in France.
At the very least his determination to act quickly holds some promise that he will be a different kind of French President.
As far as him trafficking in anti-American rhetoric, that does not seem likely. He had every opportunity to do so during the election campaign. If he failed engage in that kind of demagoguery then, I doubt he will begin to use this tactic now.
Like Merkel ,and Haper here in Canada, Sarkozy is likely to step back from the bash=Anerica tactics of his predecessor. That does not mean that a new strategic relationship between Europe and America will emerge tomorrow. It does mean that the French political class will spend less time proclaiming their moral superiority and more time dealing with their nation’s problems.posted by: Stephen albert on 05.07.07 at 09:18 AM [permalink]
In France Union are weak ,wery very weak.
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