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Sarkozy loves Anglo-Saxon model, calls Blair "one of us"

by Jerome a Paris Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 01:17:21 PM EST

Nicolas Sarkozy rend hommage à Tony Blair

"Il ne s'agit pas de plaquer un modèle qui n'est pas le nôtre. Mais en même temps, Tony Blair est un homme dont le pragmatisme a été très utile à son pays", a-t-il ajouté.

"Les socialistes européens devraient être fiers de ce qu'a fait l'un des nôtres", a-t-il poursuivi avant de rectifier : "l'un des leurs."

Nicolas Sarkozy praises Tony Blair.

"This is not about copying wholesale a model which is not ours. But at the same time we have to take note that Tony Blair's pragmatism was very useful to his country."

"European Socialists should be proud of what one of us has done", he said, before correcting, "one of them."

bumped, and updated with big additional comment below


The Guardian has more, and takes advantage of this trip to repeat all the lies that we've been hearing for the past 10 years:

Sarkozy's London mission: meet Blair, polish the image and woo the crucial expat vote

The centre-right interior minister, keen to temper his image as a populist hard-man and appeal to workers on the left, will lunch with Tony Blair, whom he has praised for "an ability to rally the left while seducing part of the right".

Does the Guardian actually believes that Tony Blair appeals to "workers on the left"? He's been brilliant enough to make sure that they had no choice but him, but that's hardly "appealing to them". Sarkozy has a real adversary on his left, unlike Blair.

Mr Sarkozy's choice of London for his first foreign trip since launching his presidential campaign is seen as deeply symbolic. He is keen to present an image of himself as an international statesman, a friend of Mr Blair and close to the US-British alliance.

Oh please continue to show yourself close to the Bush-Blair alliance. It has little to do these days in either case with US or British pulbic opinion, and I doubt it will gain you many friends in France. So by all means continue to show yourself with war criminals.

However, on a trip to Washington last year his declaration that he was proud to be a "friend of America" received a hostile response back home and he has restated his long-held opposition to the war in Iraq. But he is also desperate for new allies in the EU and his intentions to shake up France's sclerotic economy has led him to favour aspects of the "Anglo-Saxon" model, which many in France dread.

OK, here we go. "desperate for new allies" seems to be the only authorised description of French (or German, for that matter) leaders in the UK press - even in the Guardian, it would seem.

"sclerotic" seems to be the only authorised description of the French economy - despite the fact that its growth per capita since 1994 is essentially identical to that in the UK

This afternoon he will tour a London job centre in a clear show of support for the British economic system, notably its looser labour market and ability to create 2.5m jobs in 10 years, while France is battling with high unemployment. "He is keen to see what he can learn from a British job centre," his spokeswoman said.

And I give you 2.5 million jobs created in 10 years - in fact, 2m of them in the 5 years when Lionel Jospin was Prime Minister:


left is the unemployment rate
right is the total number of jobs in the private sector


left is total number of jobs in France and the UK (base 1994)
right is the evolution of active population in both countries (base 1994)

Supposedly rigid labor markets - and the introduction of the widely despised 35-hour week - have created more jobs than the "looser" ones in the UK - which in fact is creating on public sector jobs these days...


number of jobs
thin line: in public administrations
thick line: outside public administration

When will that be said loudly and acknowledged in the media? You'd think that the Guardian, which used to be a lefty paper, would care about facts...

(Strangely enough, the French graph looks really similar to the US story, with Clinton follwoed by Bush...):

After a visit to Churchill's cabinet war rooms, Mr Sarkozy will then address 2,000 French expatriates at a rally in central London. He has often spoken of the need to lure back to France the hundreds of thousands of highly qualified graduates who have moved to Britain, fleeing unemployment and a sluggish economy. But his courting of the London diaspora is part of a concerted effort by his ruling centre-right party to woo the 800,000 potential voters outside France who could swing a close-run second round.

Between 200,000 and 300,000 French people live in Britain and around 60,000 have registered to vote in the spring presidential election. With an average age of 29, most are part of a brain drain from France's universities and many work in the City. "France is in the process of becoming a country of emigration," Thierry Mariani of Mr Sarkozy's UMP party has warned.

"unemployment" "sluggish", "brain drain". Again, the usual clichés. Again, they are false.

Youth unemployment - when compared to population, not just to active population, is basically identical (at 8%) in the big economies:

Meanwhile, the UK has the largest net outflow of graduates to other developed economies of all developed economies, while France has the highest total net inflow of graduates (taking into account inflows form the rest of the world) of the big European economies:

So sure, there are a lot of French bankers - and bakers - in London, but they are not the whole story.

Mr Sarkozy is also keen to win back the youth vote that is currently tipped towards his socialist rival Ségolène Royal, who has focused on internet campaigning.

(...)

Mr Sarkozy has taken advice from Mr Blair on policy and the euro but also on how to run his campaign, prompting the media to question how far his spin and media offensive is modelled on the New Labour machine. Some commentators have even wondered whether Mr Blair has inspired a new trend in France of politicians being photographed in their swimming trunks.

Sans commentaire. What has politics come to?

Although Mr Sarkozy has made speeches saying the French must learn English, he has struggled with the language himself, failing to get a qualification from one of Paris's elite post-graduate colleges because his marks in English were too low. Mr Blair speaks to him in French, using the familiar "tu" form of address.

Catherine Nay, author of a new biography of Mr Sarkozy, told the Guardian: "Among all the European leaders, he likes and admires Mr Blair a lot. When Cherie Blair comes to Paris she has dinner at Mr Sarkozy's interior ministry. The two men see each other on their holidays and for lunch."

At least, it's clear who is senior in that relationship. The poodle's poodle. Sweet.

But the once square Nicolas Sarkozy has reinvented himself as a moon-walking, jive-talking disco fiend courtesy of a popular website, discosarko.com The site, which was launched in December, has attracted about 4,000 hits a day as people click on options such as KC and the Sunshine Band's Shake Your Booty to laugh as a computer-generated Sarkozy delivers a performance somewhere between John Travolta and Mr Bean.

But the mocking site is in fact part of an effort by Mr Sarkozy's marketeers to make him seem in touch with the times. It is also a tool for collecting the contact details of potential supporters.

Arnaud Dassier, whose company manages part of Mr Sarkozy's cyber campaign, said the candidate himself gave the green light for his disco alter ego, after asking his wife Cecilia what she thought of it.

A spokeswoman from Mr Sarkozy's office said although the site was run by young "sarkonautes" who supported the candidate, it was "not at all being run by Mr Sarkozy's campaign headquarters".

Ah, the spontaneous blogging of the right...

So, to sum up:

  • Sarkozy dutifully admires the supposedly superior English model
  • he is proudly subversient to the leader of his neo-liberal camp in Europe, Tony Blair
  • he is doing his darnedest best not to be an arrogant French, and is keen to spin.

Way to go Sarko. And way to go, the Guardian. You one of "us" too, now, right?

Display:
Sarko is, of course, right about Blair. The relevant question is "is this a good thing".

On the youth employment figures - you know, there is quite a lot of moving parts in the analysis which have relevance. For one thing, formation is different, and student retention as well. And not enough access to elite levels of education in France on top of it all.

There are many ways to address this issue, the important thing is that they be proposed, lest Sarko take up the space ideologically and stake his ground. 20+% youth unemployment is a problem.

by redstar on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 04:41:00 PM EST
begs the question - 20% of what.

The question is - those that are not in the active population - is it for good reasons like studying, or is it because they are discouraged?

See this:

Translated and discussed here:
Facts about the French labor market

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 05:56:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I was in the US I "learnt" that when there is a recession enrolment in postgraduate education increases. So, education is both "a good reason" and a sign of "discouragement". How do you disentangle the two?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 03:40:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This topic confuses and troubles me a lot, because I have some relatives and acquaintances (in their twenties) in France who can't seem to find interesting, stable work, try as they might, except thankless part-time jobs and slavish internships (stages), and I cannot tell whether they are among the unlucky minority, or if they are in fact more representative of that age group.

However, this graphic was somewhat helpful to me:

It seems to indicate that if you are under 26, and do not have a technical or professional degree (Bacs professionel ou technologique), then you will have a higher chance of obtaining a permanent work contract (CDI) if you continue studying until you get a "graduate degree" (Deuxième cycle), and even more chance with a post-graduate degree (Troisième cycle) -- assuming I'm reading it right.

If that is general knowledge young people, and if higher education is free (which I believe it is in France by and large), then presto, you have 60% of 15-24 year olds enrolled in school trying to get higher and higher degrees.

The chart would help a lot more if it gave percentages of people who have each respective level of education.

I encourage you to go shopping more. -- George W. Bush

by marco on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 06:13:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting that those statistics don't distinguish the Grandes Ecoles from the University, which seems to be an important factor in access to good jobs.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 06:17:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So now all the big guns in French media will be repeating how Sarko is "Blairiste", just as they did with Royal?

I'm not taking any bets...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 05:04:13 PM EST

Sarkozy's plan: Reaganomics with a French accent

In a recent interview with Le Monde, Mr Sarkozy presented his plan in some detail. I would categorise it in terms of four planks. First, on the labour market, he wants to provide financial incentives for people to work more hours. (...)

Second, on corporate governance, he has come out against high executive salaries that do not reflect an equivalent degree of risk. (...)

Third, on taxes and spending, the most important measure is to exempt all but 5 per cent of the population from inheritance taxes. He wants to reduce the general tax ceiling on income from a current 60 per cent to 50 per cent; (...)

Fourth, on monetary policy, he said that the European Central Bank should actively use interest rates to stimulate growth.

(...)

This is Reaganomics with a French accent but Mr Sarkozy operates in a different economic policy environment from Ronald Reagan, the former US president. Taxes are high in France for the simple reason that the French state sector accounts for 54 per cent of GDP. In my view, there is nothing wrong with a strong state sector in principle, if this is what a country wants. But it requires some honesty about the tax level. If Mr Sarkozy wanted US-style taxes, he would need a US-style state sector.

In any case, the European Union's stability and growth pact puts severe limits on Mr Sarkozy's room for manoeuvre to increase the deficit. (...) That suggests to me that he will either not be able to implement his proposals for fiscal policy or, if he wants to implement some of them, he will have to introduce new taxes, cut spending or both. In other words, he is either lying or else gearing up to do real damage to the economy.

His proposal number four - changing the mandate of the ECB - is dishonest. (...)

Mr Sarkozy's mild form of ECB bashing on one level reflects a valid concern that the economic governance of the eurozone is far from optimal. At another, more alarming level, it reveals a self-delusion about economic autonomy among the country's political elites.

While I like what Mr Sarkozy has to say about working time and corporate governance, he presented an inadequate economics plan. Ségolène Royal still has to present hers and I bet it will be even more alarming. The coming showdown between the two candidates may well turn out to be great political entertainment. But from an economic point of view, it is depressing.

Royal is a French socialist, so doubly bad by definition, but Sarkozy does not generate enthusiasm there, to say the least... there are pretty harsh words above. His Frenchness overwhelms his pseudo neoliberalism, I guess...

But his probram is called Reaganomics - which should be played on as much as possible.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 06:03:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Sarkonauts"???

I wonder how much cocaine the media strategist who coined that joemomentous term was sniffing.

by Trond Ove on Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 06:03:51 PM EST
What sort of vision French President contenders have for the role of France in the rapidly changing world? I think they will follow Mitterand-Chirac policy of engagement with Germany and Russia (and even with China and India) irrespectively who will come to power. That was evident in Mr Prodi behaviour who quickly became "nash" in Moscow. There are some geopolitical reasons behind this direction of big Continental powers policy and I doubt thast Sarkozy would agree to be the poodle's poodle. And of course Englishmen would attach themselves to any American presidents no matter how stupid policies they are going to pursue. That's long term reality, not fantasies.
by FarEasterner on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 01:45:48 AM EST
What I said above probably does not need any illustrations but if you doubt my words - here is the link to recent discussion about Russian American relations that proved - no matter what kind of politicians head countries - national interests are above them.
by FarEasterner on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 08:05:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The FT has an article this morning from "the joint founders of Cercle d'outre-Manche, the French London-based think-tank", i.e. some French France-bashers.

It fits with that same narrative...


What France can learn from its nemesis

In three months' time, France will face a crossroads. As voters choose their next president, they should demand that candidates move from platitudes to an adult debate about putting France back on a sustainable economic growth path that will create jobs and wealth.

As usual, the (false) point is made that France is not growing, or not creating jobs, and is not on a sustainable path.


This debate can be informed by looking at France's nemesis across the Channel. With 2.5m fewer inhabitants than France, the UK generates €76bn ($98bn) more annual gross domestic product. This is equal to €2,400 more per head. Twenty five years ago, the UK's GDP per head was 75 per cent that of France. Why is it relevant for France to benchmark itself against Britain?

So the UK has caught up with France, on one measure. Good for them, but how does that imply that what France did and is doing is flawed?


Apart from similar populations and GDPs, both have the same percentage of GDP coming from industry (Britain 26 per cent; France 25 per cent) and service (74 per cent; 72 per cent). Both have a 1,000-year history of centralised nation states, were once colonial powers and are now nuclear ones and, as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, punch above their weight internationally. Both have an inclusive social model with free access to education and health to all.

Purely comparable social models, of course. Are your kids in a private (or a French) school in London, or in a public-sector one?


Each has its favourite bogeyman. For Britain it is Europe, because it imposes too many restrictions and is inward-looking. For France, the "market" (aka, ultra-liberal Anglo-Saxon capitalism) is evil because it destroys protections and is too open.

I won't comment on the (imaginary) reasons why Europe is feared in the UK, but I'll note that the authors conflate "markets" with "ultra-liberal Anglo-Saxon capitalism" after having explained that the UK has an "inclusive" social model.


How did Britain go from being the sick man of Europe to a high growth, high employment country? Four million more people work in Britain than in France and they work longer.

As noted here in French (comment 10), here are the numbers of hourse worked, per worker, on average:

France: 37,4
Eurozone: 37,3
Sweden: 36,3
Denmark: 35,9
Germany: 35,8
UK: 35,6
Netherlands: 32,0

Simply because there are lots more part time jobs in the UK. More people work, but they work less (and, also, are much less productive)


Margaret Thatcher's government broke down many rigidities and reintroduced market practices in the economy. With Tony Blair at the helm and Gordon Brown at the purse, market fluidity has been introduced in almost all aspects of the economy. Where it has not - for example, in the National Health Service - public spending has failed to make a difference. Benchmarking, reforms and service delivery have become the mantra of public policy.

Public spending is bad, bad, bad. Too bad that this is precisely what Blair and Brown have done, as the graphs posted above on government spending and number of government jobs show...

But no, anything that works is due to markets, and market rhetoric, not Keynesian spending...

[skipping some bits about how UK politicians and economists are better than their French counterparts]


The minimum wage has risen 40 per cent since its introduction and is now at roughly the same level as in France.

The big difference, however, is that 1.3m Britons are paid the minimum wage compared with 2.9m in France, because it is set by economic partners at an economically sustainable level in the UK and by politicians at a politically determined level in France.

So the "same level" (in economies with similar structures, similar GDP and similar sizes) is "economically sustainable" in the UK but "politically determined" in France. Sigh, you can never win with these people


Britain's acceptance of the world as it is means seeing globalisation as an opportunity . Britain embraces competition which entails benchmarking, a focus on areas of comparative advantage and constant experimentation and change to deliver jobs, growth and wealth. Employment creates growth more than growth creates jobs, so hiring people has been made easier. People do not worry about whether they will find a job, but think of which job they will choose.

(...)

There must be a recognition that business is the engine of growth and wealth creation. Markets must be made truly efficient with an adequate set of regulations. Britain has shown that work is a better way of creating wealth than leisure.

I cut most of the rest, because it is truly mind numbing.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 09:11:10 AM EST
It really is quite astonishing isn't it? I have a certain awe of their mental flexibilty and ability to believe and express multiple conflicting ideas at the same time.

Unless of course, it's all a big lie to make the YOYO model palatable for the masses.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 09:14:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is. And yet it is taken so seriously by everybody that "counts". That's what the most disturbing.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 10:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the whole project of the last 25 years has been to make it so only people who benefit from "YOYO" (and thus have an incentive to support it) still "count."

We shouldn't really have to be quoting Warren Buffett on the fact that ordinary people are losing a "class war" to the rich or Bill Gates as an advocate for non-Randian (as in Ayn Rand) charitable values. But we are, because any voice that isn't at the top of the "YOYO" tree has been systematically undermined and discredited.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 10:22:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]

People with full time jobs work - far - longer in the UK.

So it would seem that the two-speed job market is alive and well over there too...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 11:34:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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