A French Conservative's Point of View ...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: May 07, 2007 11:23 AM

I got this email from a Alexandre Pesey, a friend of mine who is also Executive Director of the Institut de Formation Politique (Paris, France). 

The good news of our Sunday presidential election is that Jacques Chirac is gone in 10 days ! In 10 days, this guy who stayed 12 years and did absolutely nothing will leave the Elysée. Thanks the Lord !

I know what you may think: what about the new elected French president Nicolas Sarkozy ?

Nicolas Sarkozy got 53% of the votes versus 47% for Ségolène Royal. That is a big victory!

I will try to address two questions: how to explain his victory ? Is he the Reagan or Thatcher France need?

He won because he was simply the best. In TV debate, he is the only one in my memory who beat Jean-Marie Le Pen, the nationalist candidate. Most politicians were afraid of Le Pen and many journalists admitted they didn’t invite Le Pen because he was too good. Sarkozy went and beat him. He is a very good public speaker. He is convincing and totally opposed in its style the bureaucrats who run France for so many years.

He also chose the best strategy: he run on a right wing rhetoric and agenda. He said he was proud to be right-wing, he loved France, he was tired of western guilt, he said people had to work instead of being assisted and that he didn’t intend to be the friend of suburban riots leaders when most politicians, journalists and intellectuals were repeating that being right-wing means being fascist, that French should be ashamed of their History, that the West were the oppressing people (the Americans being at the head of this oppression of the poors!) or that young people who were burning cars and schools in suburbs were simply expressing their suffering of being victims of discriminations.

For 5 years, France was turning to the right and Sarkozy felt it. When its advisors told him that an election was being won on the center, he continued to the right. French people loved it and gave him 31% of the vote on the first round when Jacques Chirac got only 19% in 2002.

On the other side, Ségolène Royal, the socialist candidate was not credible. She is not a good speaker and strategically she was trapped between the Marxists candidates (10% of the votes) and the center leaded by François Bayrou (18% of the votes). If she goes to the right, she looses the Marxists, if she moves to the left, she has no chance. The socialist party could even split because of that. They hesitate between staying a socialist party or becoming like in Great-Britain or Germany a social-democrat one.

Is Nicolas Sarkozy a kind of Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher?

I would love so. France just need it.

When you hear Nicolas Sarkozy talking about his love for France, his impatience with western guilt, with American bashing or the need to work to get things, he is clearly more of a conservative.

If you look at him in action - its immigration policy and its economical measures while he was secretary of State - he is a very moderate one.

If you hear him talking about affirmative action, death penalty, right to bear arms, he is clearly a liberal.

It was a bet for many conservatives. Nicolas Sarkozy was in power for years without strong results, but he is such a dynamic guy and has such a will to change things, that he convinced most of French people that he was the one we needed, that he could be our Reagan or Thatcher.

Jacques Chirac in the mid 80’ was very conservative on social and fiscal issues. He was also dynamic and said he would do things. Elected president, he happened to be the worse president we ever got.

I just pray Nicolas Sarkozy will be our Ronald Reagan, not another Jacques Chirac.