An American observer comments on French politics.
If this can help, I rather liked Sarkozy in his first months as Interior Minister, perhaps just because he wasn't Pasqua. Then:a) on July 14 ("Bastille Day"), 2004, that incredibly arrogant and rude attack against then current president Chirac;b) some months later, in an US forum I participated in, a rather naive and ignorant US poster, also a great neo-con fan, suddenly wrote that Sarkozy was the best candidate for France. How had this guy ever heard of our Nicolas, mostly known for Hauts-de-Seine local politics ?That was it as far as I was concerned, and further events only strenghtened my opinion. Mélanie
Based on what I hear from ex-sarko-fans, the most common explanation is "feeling cheated". Those who voted for him did so because they wanted 1° more disposable income (instead, it shrunk) 2° meritocracy instead of ol'boys network (spectacular failure) 3° "plain talk" (instead they think they'd been lied to - Sarkozy's words are no longer considered predictive of any action, rather that they're just lip-service to whatever group he's talking to or even that he'll do the opposite of what he said).As for those who didn't vote for him, there's a sense that he's "kidnapped" France -- taken values they were proud of and systems that worked, and proceeded to wreck them. An example of this is a particular grass roots movement, that of parents with kids 3-12 who occupy schools and protest in every possible way. Indeed there are larger numbers of kids coming into classes yet 1,500 classrooms (entire classrooms) are being cut, plus an extra 2,000 primary school teacher positions cut - when France was recently revealed as having a below average teacher/student ratio in the primary grades (and just average at the secondary level).People protest THEIR classroom being cut but (and that's new-ish) they also express a larger sense that "education has to be a country's priority and it's the bedrock of the republic, and Sarko's destroying it." Regardless of political affiliation, the same outrage is heard and isn't local, but specifically directed at NS.
>>How had this guy ever heard of our Nicolas, mostly known for Hauts-de-Seine local politics ?@Mélanie , Yes , I see that you are not one to be bamboozled . He was well-known in those circles . He was handpicked by Cheney and Rumsfeld.Philippe
I'll quote the words Jim Sleeper, in refernce to Rudolph Giuliani:"He's a small man in search of a balcony."
Sorry, Jimmy Breslin.
I agree that there’s something interesting and surprising about the level of hatred for Sarkozy. As someone who follows French politics from the US (and was out of touch for about a year), I don’t quite get it. But I find the various explanations provided in Vinocur’s article plausible, including Taguieff’s suggestion of a kind of anti-semitism. Sarkozy’s figuration as an “outsider,” with a vulgar, “flashy” style certainly recalls anti-semitic tropes.
But they chose him precisely because he was perceived as different, an outsider who could really shake things up. There is general agreement that France has to change but few people agree on what that change should look like.I think when Sarko was elected the French were mentally prepared for change and were hoping for someone who could impose some "tough love" wrapped in a grand vision. They got less of the former and none of the latter.I find it very interesting that the bac this year has De Gaulle's memoirs on the program - my daughter has practically memorized his book in preparation for her exams. Of all the things you can say about him, you cannot argue that he lacked vision or didn't convey the idea that France was a great country destined for great things. Sarko is almost as arrogant as De Gaulle was but he's not nearly as inspiring. I think to be a very successful president in France, you must have the ability to seduce (if I may use that word) the French, to make them dream with eloquence and grand visions.
Alex, no one knew or cared that Sarko happened to have one Jewish grandfather who had converted to catholicism. Then, in 2004 / 2005, the anglophone media was abuzz with "Sarkozy is Jewish and should become the next presidend of France". I found it weird, didn't you ?
@Philippe So you believe that Sarko was hand picked by Cheney and Rummy to be President of France? You mean it isn't Bush's fault? Don't let the FreeMasons, Bilderburgers, Illuminati, 911Truthers, NWO people, the CFR, Skull and Bones, or the people of France who elected Sarko find out. But do put in a call to David Icke and Art Bell. Please remove your tinfoil hat before doing so. You've gotta lighten up. The reasons given by the very insightful and reasonable John Vinocur in the NYT make total logical sense to me, Sarko does not come from the entrenched elite as do almost all French high level politicos - same upbringing, same schools, a closed inner circle that most French people cannot relate to.Sarko is a man of great personal conviction and strength, as even his political adversary, Kouchner, admits. And in a country with and ugly thread of anti-Semitism running throughout it's history, past and present, the fact that Sarko's grandfather was a Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism before marrying his grandmother ( who was a French RC Bouvier just like Jackie-O) is always mentioned. To the ruling elites, Sarko is not quite French enough, an outsider, not one of them. If I were a gambler, like Kouchner, my odds would be on Sarko to win again. L' Affaire DSK has shined an ugly light on the dark underbelly of French politics, and the Socialist response was callous, misogynist, elitist, morally bankrupt, and self destructive. And you can't beat something with nothing.
Au contraire, par exemple, de Chirac, Sarkozy ne donne pas l’apparence – ou l’impression - d’être chaleureux, ouvert, terre-à-terre, prêt à écouter; ses complexes sont trop visibles. Il veut donner l’impression d’être « un dur » mais on voit qu’il est au fond fragile, donc il crée, malgré lui, une image ambigüe, pas rassurante, inquiétante, et, somme tout, négative.
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