by Jerome a Paris
Sun May 6th, 2007 at 02:07:15 PM EST
Let me make a few predictions (some of which my regular readers already know).
Nobody knows what Sarkozy will do as president, because he has basically promised everything and its opposite and because, when he was in power, he did nothing but posturing. It's possible that he will try to go for radical 'reform', arguing that he has a strong mandate from the French; it's possible that he'll be like Chirac, doing essentially nothing because getting power was the only goal, not exercising it.
What I am fairly certain of, is that the international press will see his victory as follows:
- a mandate for 'reform' (the Wall Street Journal kind: "lower taxes to reduce wage costs, tighten rules government benefits, loosen up employment protection laws, for starters"),
- an acknowledgement by the French that they finally must enter the 21st century (you know, globalised, productive, English-speaking, but threatened by terrorists and the parasitic poor) and repudiate all the ideas that were dragging them down: the belief in the uniqueness of France, in the role of the State, in equality, in immaterial quality-of-life stuff.
- finally, even France understands that a modern economy must focus first on companies and their profits, because that's how you create jobs;
- even France understands that you must follow the USA's diplomatic and political lead, because that's for the best ;
- even France understands that Europe should be an efficient free trade zone and little more.
But even as I despair of this vote, I do not really expect Nicolas Sarkozy to deliver quite what these pundits and self-interested parties expect. I don't believe he will align France's diplomacy unquestionably on US positions; I don't believe he will agree to Blair or Brown's vision of Europe; I don't even believe he will try for any kind of 'reform' as the WSJ is expecting; I don't think he will stop defending French interests against those of the multinational companies and the financial centers.
Soon, it will appear that he is still French. Mutterings about the uselessness of expecting better from them will start to be heard. Talk about missed opportunities will crop up, as will eventually that of decline, again.
I give them less than a year.