After hearing Nicolas Sarkozy, the recently elected French president, lauded for his courageous campaign theme, “The French will have to work harder,” I read his book “Testimony: France in the Twenty-first Century.” I am amazed that the French people elected him, and am looking forward to seeing how his administration progresses.
Nicolas Sarkozy is a conservative who campaigned against the conservative establishment (this takes real skill), By any standard political measurement, Sarkozy, 52, could have been expected to lose the presidential election to left-wing Socialist Party standard bearer Ségolène Royal. Yet, Sarkozy’s hard work and focus on optimism and hopes for a better France led him to victory on May 6.
Before his election, Sarkozy wrote “Testimony,” a book criticized by some as intended to provide voters with background information that would make the candidate more appealing.
Whatever the purpose of the book, it is an interesting read.
The first portion covers Sarkozy’s entry into politics, his early years and the formation of his belief system. He conveys an earnestness and idealism that is refreshing. Sarkozy’s idea that “politics has meaning only when its objective is to give hope to millions of people” reflects the belief of a man focused on people first but with an understanding of how politics works and the skills required to achieve his ambitious goals for France.
Referring to the fact that memos cannot replace meetings, he notes that “No file, however carefully prepared, can replace in-the-field experience.”
However, despite his idealism and optimism, Sarkozy appears to favor measurements and outcomes over feelings and hopes. He expands on this line of reasoning when he states that, no matter how a law or regulation might sound when passed, it’s the implementation that matters. He encourages lawmakers to visit the front lines to see if their intentions have translated into the results they were seeking.
“The main characteristic of our society is the absence of hope, whereas the very goal of politics is to provide hope,” Sarkozy writes, outlining the current bleak social and economic reality faced by the French. However, he also promised that their future can be brighter if the French can work together and invent a better future.