Monday, November 29, 2004

Sarkozy's coronation

Mr Sarkozy, by contrast, has no time for tradition for tradition's sake. In an enlarged Europe, he argues that France can no longer rely on the Franco-German motor and needs to cultivate a group of six that also includes Britain, Spain, Italy and Poland. Atlantic-minded, he urges a milder approach to America. He advocates an overhaul of the French social model, pushing for less state regulation and a more flexible labour market; his inspirations are Britain and Spain, not moribund Germany. He considers that the French model of integration has failed French Muslims, and argues for American-style social engineering to help minorities advance. In short, where Mr Chirac urges caution and conservatism, Mr Sarkozy presses for modernisation and change. “France is not eternal,” says one of his aides. “If it does not reform, it will disappear.”  
( 'The changing of the guard', The Economist, Nov 25th 2004)

In the part of his speech on Sunday that the BBC World Service chose to highlight,  Sarkozy said, 'We do not share the anglo-saxon vision of an ever larger EU' and came out against Turkey having full membership.

This may be understandable in the context of French domestic politics and the ongoing conflict against the US and its surrogate in Europe, but its timing is unfortunate  in the light of events in the east of Europe (a bit further north than Turkey).

Bernard Guetta elicits a gasp of incredulity on my part when he compares what's going on in Kiev to the reaction of the Spanish people to the supposed 'lie' told them over the Madrid bombings. I did once ask a Spanish colleague what he thought of the 'lie' theory and he went along with it, so I suppose it is a 'real' myth, but it really does have little foundation. We shall see if Aznar is asked about it when he appears at an inquiry today.

Apart from that, France Inter did have splendid coverage from Kiev this morning (Monday). One listener asked why they so uncritically supported one 'side', that was so pro-US. Guetta replied that it was the vision of the EU, now on its western borders, not the US, that inspired the opposition. Most speakers reject with contempt the idea that this is some sort of US-inspired plot : as if the CIA went into every house and persuaded people to go onto the street.

The BBC WS on Sunday looked at some of the economic issues : Yushchenko was unpopular with industrial workers in the east because of his policies of economic liberalization, whereas Yanukovych was seen as providing more 'protection'.

They also got a reporter outside the tumult of Kiev, to find there is quieter, but still firm, support for the 'orange revolution'.


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