Monday, July 23, 2007

Letting people of

Sarkozy is 'Not quite Napoleon', according to Agnès Poirier, Guardian Comment, Tuesday July 10, via Oliver Kamm).
For one thing, he has just banned mass mercy to the nation's prisoners on this Saturday's Bastille day, a measure that was restored by Napoleon in 1802. ... Our supreme leader has actually more in common with another Napoleon ... Napoleon the third,
I thought moving away from letting people of their parking tickets on 14 July was something in Sarkozy's favour: the practice was one of those things that reinforced the image of the French president as a kind of elected monarch.

One small irony: it was Napoleon III who made smoking cigarettes fashionable in Europe; under Sarkozy's watch, smoking is likely to be abolished in French cafés etc.

Update (18 Jul). From subsequent discussions on French radio, it appears that there are more serious objections to the Bastille Day amnesty: it comes at a time when much of France is "asleep", when the public services are not in the best of positions to re-integrate large numbers of ex-prisoners back into society.

Chirac has been questioned about activities as mayor of Paris, from 1977 to 1995, when it is alleged that state funds were used to pay workers for his RPR party. His defence seems to boil down to saying that everybody was doing similar things at the time.

The net seems to be closing in on Dominique de Villepin in the Clearstream affair. Denis Robert is claiming that the judicial enquiries are bearing out what he said in his books: that the trail would lead all the way back to the former prime minister and the president of the Republic. But Chirac is immune from investigation into actions during his presidency. It has been argued that the commission set up by Sarkozy to look into the constitution should consider whether it is still appropriate to sanctuariser the president from prosecution. In the United States, and it must really hurt the French to admit this, the president is subject to impeachment...


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