Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sarko VRP

Sarkozy continues to peddle power plants in his presidential peregrinations. Today he sealed a deal for a coal-fired plant, to be built by Alstom in South Africa. As usual, Anne Lauvergeon, the head of Areva, was part of the presidential delegation and pitched a nuclear power station to the South Africans as well. The role of the French state in these deals remains, as always, ambiguous. Is Lauvergeon accompanying Sarkozy or vice versa? With all the talk of the president's diminution of the sacred office by his écarts de langue et de lit, it's odd that no one has remarked on the rather undignified posture of the traveling salesman head of state. Perhaps the French are too habituated to the practice to care.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very good point about Sarkozy’s “travelling salesman” persona. All his trips are “crowned” with the announcement of multi-million or billion-euro deals for sales of arms, nuclear power, high speed trains, etc. How did the French President get to play the CEO role of every major French company? Why do French companies cede their glory to a political figure? Can one do business in France without the ruling party’s imprimatur? Was it always so? One cannot imagine American Presidents signing contracts on behalf of GM, Microsoft, or Boeing. In France, the line between business and government is blurred by nationalization, partial state ownership of ostensibly private companies, and the movement of French technocrats and politicians between political ministries and corporate boardrooms. Sadly, the incestuousness of France’s political and business worlds reminds one of a banana republic. It certainly does not inspire confidence in foreign businessmen who are urged by France’s latest NGO to “Invest in France.”