MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The French Elections

The official campaign for the Presidency of France, commenced on the 9th of April. Over the last month numerous articles have been published about the prospective candidates. Quite a number of these have been very complimentary about Nicholas Sarkozy, the main right-wing candidate.

The Daily Telegraph, was first in, describing Sarkozy's impessive 'tough love' proposals and ideas:

On Thursday he presented his 16-page manifesto, eight million copies of which are being prepared for distribution to French voters.

He has moderated his previous commitment to tax cuts, promising merely to "do his best" to lower them. But he reaffirmed his determination to create a ministry of immigration and national identity.

"If I'm elected I will never stop declaring our pride in being French," he said, announcing that he would introduce annual "immigration quotas".

The promises sound good; although they do seem a little familiar. Perhaps David Cameron has lent him the manifesto he wrote for Michael Howard's failed general election campaign. But this article, also from the Telegraph, provides an even better reason for the French to vote for Sarko: he scares the French 'youths', witless.

Then there is Pat Buchanan, who focused his column on Sarkosy's patriotic credentials, impressing Pat immensly:
Sarkozy sounds like a Hamiltonian. He believes in markets. He understands markets. But the country comes first. Decisions that affect the sovereignty and economic independence of the nation are not to be left to the invisible hand of a market that promises only the most efficient result, now, and not necessarily what is best for the nation.
If all this promise turns out to be true, then I sincerely hope that the French do vote for Sarkosy. Unlike some, I cannot see any good coming from France falling into disarray, and if Sarkosy came through on his promises he could be the medicine it desperately needs.

However, there is an element of 'everybody's man', about Sarkosy. Indeed,Theodore Dalrymple's recent Spectator Column takes a slightly critical view of Sarkozy:
Is Sarko the man to deal with all this? Certainly, he can talk tough; but when the Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, took the first very timid steps to reduce the inflexibility in the labour market that keeps unemployment so high in the townships, Sarko lost no time in trying to reap personal political advantage by failing to support him. The one and only correct political prediction I have ever made in my life was to foresee that if the government tried to alleviate the situation in the townships, there would be rioting on the Boulevard St Germain; and when there was such rioting, Sarko voted for surrender. It remains to be seen whether he is made of sterner stuff when he has no rival (as the Prime Minister then was) to outflank or betray.
Dalrymple does come out as supporting Sarkosy in his column, but only as the 'least worse' option, compared to the left-winger Ségolène Royal and centrist François Bayrou. Not exactly a ringing endorsement!

It is probably the way things will pan out, however. I can see Sarkosy winning handsomely. But, to me, he will simply be a new Chirac. Anti-immigration, when it's popular; economically nationalist, socialist or liberal, depending on the way the tide is turning; pro-European sometimes, anti-European the rest of the time. Exactly the sort of politician France doesn't need.

For what it's worth, if I were a Frenchman my vote wouldn't go to Sarkosy, Bayrou or Royal. It certainly wouldn't go to Le Pen, who thinks 9/11 was a mere 'incident', and morally equivocal to the bombing of Dresden. In other words he is an idiot. Instead, I would vote for Philippe de Villiers, the traditional conservative candidate. He is riding at his highest level of popularity ever, but is still unlikely to make the final run-off. Still, a good showing from de Villiers may have an effect on Sarkosy; showing him that the popular answer to France's problems is good old-fashioned conservatism.

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