May 7, 2007


THE TRIUMPH OF THE CONSERVATIVES: France Lurches to the Right (Stefan Simons, 5/07/07, Der Spiegel)

Perhaps it wasn't exactly a landslide, but it was certainly an unambiguous result: France's 44 million voters have chosen Nicolas Sarkozy, the strong man of the governing UMP, with a resounding majority and a record turnout. They have chosen his vision of a radical revitalization of the Republic and a return to the nation's patriotic foundations. Sarkozy's convincing win is the triumph of political individualism over the rival worldview of the Socialist candidate Ségòlene Royal and her vision of a "participatory democracy" -- which too often got lost in vague affirmations. [...]

Sarkozy succeeded in retouching his image by dipping his hand into the toolbox of America's neoconservatives. Many French fear they are being defenselessly hurdled towards a disquieting and potentially even dangerous future, and Sarkozy fed these fears by pledging a categorical restructuring of society and an ideological return to traditional values. And what about his populist commitment to morals, authority and responsibility, his references to the contributions the nation had made to the world and his vision of an internationally strengthened France? What perfect balm for a nation's oppressed soul.

The retouching also involved a clearly recognizable shift to the right: Without any shyness and a demagogic deftness Sarkozy was able -- already at the first round of voting -- to win over the voters of the extremist National Front (FN). With his thinly veiled attacks against immigrants from the North African Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa and his pledge to create a "Ministry for Immigration and National Identity," he made the right-wing slogans of FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen palatable. In doing so, he managed to hijack Le Pen's right-wing protest voters. Instead of voting for Le Pen this time, the French voted for a copy.

Nationalism, not patriotism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 7, 2007 2:52 PM

Sarkozy fed these fears by pledging a categorical restructuring of society and an ideological return to traditional values.

A less biased reporter would have used "allayed, responded to, addressed,..." instead of "fed".

Posted by: ic at May 7, 2007 4:27 PM

Blair is more like Clinton than W. Blair stood up and sided with America.

Chirac is what France calls a 'conservative'. Clearly the translation is odd. Sarkozy sounds cozy. I truly have no idea.

Is there a Sarkozy for idiots out there? My gut tells me that there is no hope for France. I fear that France is the future of the free world......


Posted by: Bonzo at May 7, 2007 6:54 PM

In the world of Der Spiegel right-wing parties only win elections by appealing to the base desires of the unwashed masses. If not for the politics of fear, people would choose enlightened socialist leaders.

Posted by: Daran at May 8, 2007 2:30 AM