Thursday, November 11, 2010

The G20

If you don't live in France, you're probably unaware that the G20 meeting that begins today in Seoul is to be presided over by Nicolas Sarkozy. Even if you do live in France, you may well be in the dark. In certain circles, however, there has been a good deal of buzz about whether Sarkozy can use the G20 to revive his flagging political fortunes at home. The answer is obviously no, but this is not apparent to the few who live inside the bubble of high-level international diplomacy. Take this comment by Hubert Védrine, for instance, which dates from September:

Quelles sont les conditions d'un succès pour Nicolas Sarkozy?
On peut imaginer que dans cet exercice, il sera bon. Il a été bon quand il présidait l'Union européenne en 2008. Il aura l'énergie, l'inventivité, etc. Je ne pense pas que son image soit trop atteinte et que ça puisse l'empêcher de mener cette présidence à bien. En même temps, c'est très compliqué, parce que les objectifs sont très ambitieux. Mais il peut tout à fait aboutir à ce qu'on dise qu'il a fait la meilleure présidence possible.

Of course, even if Sarko does have "the best possible presidency," it won't matter a jot to French voters, who could care less whether such French priorities as "setting up a permanent G20 secretariat" are achieved. This is not to say that such institutions of international governance don't matter. They do, but the man in the street won't hear about them. He may not even hear about the "clash of titans," the "G2 within the G20," or "the face-off between today's mega-power (the US) and tomorrow's (China)." I wonder how many even know that Sarko is in Seoul, compared with the number who know that he flew there on a new A330 that has been dubbed "Air SarkoOne." In an era of austerity, the median voter is more likely to care about the sous squandered on presidential transportation than on the destination of the journey. Sad, perhaps, but true.

1 comment:

Kirk said...

To be fair, I watched the news this morning on iTélé, and they did give a pretty good overview of the issues at the G20, including the "G2" issue. Whether the other channels will give similar coverage is not clear (I haven't watched the news at lunch time; I watch the Daily Show then), but it is clearly something that will be discussed.

This doesn't mean that "the man in the street" will understand much of this, of course...