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May 7, 2007, French election results

May 7, 2007 - 1 Comment

DUBLIN, IRELAND – Nicolas Sarkozy has won a clear mandate for change in France with his decisive victory over Segola¨ne Royal in the French presidential election yesterday. There was one telling exchange between the two French presidential candidates last week:”I will be the president of what works,” Royal said. To which Sarkozy replied:”People don’t vote for us to complicate what works, but on the contrary, to fix what doesn’t.” That contrast between progressive change/security and radical surgery was the dominant feature between left and right in the election campaign. Sarkozy campaigned throughout with the slogan of seeking a rupture -a clean break -with the French politics of recent years and French voters turned out in impressive numbers to endorse that position.Sarkozy is very different from President Chirac, not a true Gaullist, more pro-business, pro-American and typical of traditional French policymakers only in his willingness to support French interests through state protectionism. As the son of a Hungarian immigrant, who never attended the elite establishment schools, Sarkozy has been an atypical representative of the political right. In Testimony, Sarkozy’s book published in English, he writes,”I’m not trying to be provocative for the sake of it, but trying to wake people up in a way that’s urgently needed.” He continues:”The French are not afraid of change. They’re waiting for it. It’s politics that has gradually become sclerotic, predictable and rigid over the last few years, not society.” It remains to be seen whether the Sarkozy presidential victory will be confirmed by a right-wing majority in the French Parliament, the National Assembly, on June 17th. If voters take fright and elect a Socialist majority, leading to another period of cohabitation like that between Chirac and Jospin, it will be difficult for Sarkozy to implement his program of radical change. Tonight, however, Sarkozy sounded confident in announcing that”France has voted for change, and I will give it to them.” That will likely be a painful change (i.e. strikes, street demonstrations confrontations, etc.), but France needs it.

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  1. France has provided the American voters many lessons in how starkly contrasting candidates, failed policies of high taxes and overregulation and “scum” immigrants who regularly challenge their host nation’s culture, can inspire record turnouts of over eighty five percent of a population. In the most important election of a generation, French men and women marched to the polls to redirect the future of France .The citizens had a real choice. They faced two candidates with differing present and future visions of a proud country who was on the verge of losing its grandeur.Small businesses were suffocated in a system that punished growth while workers were penalized for laboring beyond thirty five hours and families were watching their rich culture yield to a prehistoric yet conquering one.In one corner stood Sarkozy, a determined realist intent on implementing practical proposals to restore the French economy to its perceived rightful place in the lead pack of economic powers. His proposals targeted personal tax reductions, eliminating the thirty five hour work week and reforming a system that punished small businesses for each measure of their growth.The other aspect of his candidacy possibly eclipsed his economic program which was his gritty resolve in preserving French culture in the face of the threat of radical Islam which had spread throughout France’s extensive immigrant community. He was fierce in confronting its menace and politically incorrect in characterizing its followers. Sarkozy views the world in absolutes where people are increasingly receptive to judging in relative terms.The other corner was occupied by Madame Royal who, like liberal American politicians, campaigned by fear and castigation. To her and her followers, cutting welfare benefits, imposing immigration restrictions, introducing competitive economic measures and putting forth the idea that human beings were capable of 36 hours of work per week was draconian. The voters disagreed.Out of vogue are thirty five hour work weeks, unmanageable and unaffordable taxes, demanding and draining immigrants and an economy ill equipped to compete. In its place are paired down policies aimed at pragmatism and economic growth.In her concession speech, without mentioning her opponent’s name once, she professed her hopes of a peaceful transition without riots. But, like many American civil rights activists before her, she had utilized the tired riot instigator. By warning against them, she was subliminally inspiring them.Most importantly, these elections showed the failures of leftist policies. With a conservative in government in both France and Germany , Europe has shown a willingness to abandon the failed ideology that guarantees everything while accomplishing nothing. The question becomes, will Americans have to experience failed immigration, bitter culture divisions and labor unions with too much power to recognize the necessity of a conservative government?