Sunday, May 6, 2007

Sarkozy Wins - France Turns Right

The French Presidential race results are in: Nicolas Sarkozy won, winning 53% against the French Socialist left candidate, Ségolène Royal. is facing a huge defeat at the hands of Nicolas Sarkozy, a man in a different mold from his predecessors.

“The French have chosen to break with the ideas, habits and behaviour of the past. I will restore the value of work, authority, merit and respect for the nation.” - Sarkozy, in his victory speech

Nicolas Sarkozy in 2005 called rioters who were torching cars "thugs" and last year stirred Euro-angst by daring to say friendly things about the United States and even meeting with President Bush. Sarkozy called last week to “liquidate” the May ’68 culture of protest that has tied up attempts to reform France's rigid workplace laws. The Socialists in turn have stirred fears of a " "Thatcher-style" effort to castrate them and sell their country into free-market slavery." Royal compared Sarkozy with President George W Bush: “He has the same neoconservative ideology,” she said on Friday. There are even warnings that French suburbs threaten riotous dawn for the reign of Sarkozy. Apparently, the hyperventilation of the Socialists has not hurt Sarkozy in the election:

To his fans it makes him a hero: only this pugnacious, stubborn and hyperactive personality with a determination to succeed is capable, they say, of dragging France out of its malaise and reconciling it with the free market.

In the 1980s, when Britain had Thatcher and the U.S. had Reagan liberating and reforming their economies, France had Socialist Mitterand, who locked in the welfare state; France never truly reformed since then, and as a consequence they have suffered from economic malaise, lower employment and economic growth, and a standard of living falling behind counterparts like Britain. Sarkozy may well change France's course, for the better, and he may also be an initiator of improved relations between France and the U.S. A new France awaits.

Update:NRO on the significance of the Sarkozy victory for French politics

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