France’s Sarkozy Plans Reform Package
French president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy plans to waste no time pushing through a weighty package of pro-market, anti-crime reforms – but the first battle is winning a majority in parliament in new elections next month.
Sarkozy, a pro-American conservative and an immigrant’s son, defeated Socialist Segolene Royal by 53.06 percent to 46.94 percent with an 85 percent voter turnout, according to final results released early Monday.
The win gave Sarkozy a strong mandate for his vision of France’s future: He wants to free up labor markets, calls France’s 35-hour work week “absurd” and plans tougher measures on crime and immigration.
Sarkozy, 52, has drawn up a whirlwind agenda for his first 100 days in office and plans to put big reforms before parliament at an extraordinary session in July. One bill would make overtime pay tax-free to encourage people to work more. Another would put in place tougher sentencing for repeat offenders, and still another would toughen up the criteria for immigrants trying to bring their families to France.
Interestingly, the article also has this,
Exit polls offered some surprises. Some 49 percent of blue-collar workers – traditionally leftist voters – chose Sarkozy, according to an Ipsos/Dell poll. Some 32 percent of people who usually vote for the Greens and 14 percent who normally support the far-left also went with Sarkozy. The poll surveyed 3,609 voters and had a margin of error of about 2 percent.
His election signals a shift to the right in French politics and could herald a major transition for French society. Sarkozy has promised to boost economic growth and employment by cutting taxes, reducing deficits, shrinking government and loosening labor laws — the kind of free-market policies embraced by the United States and Britain, but long eschewed by French leaders.
In selecting the passionate, pragmatic and pugnacious Sarkozy, who is a lawyer by training, voters rejected Royal’s prescription of continuing big spending programs to protect and expand France’s vast social welfare state.
But have they?
Mr Sarkozy’s victory was built on a message of change – rupture is his favourite word – that many analysts considered far too risqué for the supposedly conservative French. This election has shown that, given leadership and a charismatic candidate, they too are ready to adapt their country. By sheer drive and political cunning, Mr Sarkozy managed to build up an electoral machine, through the party that Mr Chirac originally founded, and reinvent himself – 30 years after entering electoral politics – as a force for change.
The question now is how far Mr Sarkozy will be able to implement some of the controversial reformist elements of his programme.
The Wall Street Journal focuses on the revolt against the 1968rs: L’Adulte: Can Sarkozy reform France?
Mr. Sarkozy acknowledges he is now part of the elites of French society, but he pledges he will govern in a way that is beyond their interests. “If I’m elected,” he told reporters before yesterday’s balloting, “it won’t be the press, the polls, the elites. It will have been the people.” His clearest break with much of French elite opinion came last week when he made a dramatic speech about a “moral crisis” the nation entered in 1968, when the “moral and intellectual relativism” embodied by the 1968 student revolt that helped topple President Charles de Gaulle from power the next year. Today, many philosophers and media commentators routinely pay homage to “the élan of 1968” and lament that the revolutionary spirit of the time did not succeed in transforming bourgeois French society more than it did.
Mr. Sarkozy took on that ’60s nostalgia. He labelled Ms. Royal and her supporters the descendants of the nihilists of 1968, and even appealed to France’s “silent majority” to repudiate the false lessons of that period. He claimed that too many Royal backers continue to hesitate in reacting against riots by “thugs, troublemakers and fraudsters.” He declared this Sunday’s election would settle the “question of whether the heritage of May ’68 should be perpetuated or if it should be liquidated once and for all.”
Which is a great idea for American politics: it’s time we discard the misguided and destructive 1968 mentality.
The question is, Is France about to exchange the fake revolution of May 1968 for a sham counter-revolution this year, or have the French given Nicolas Sarkozy a mandate for real change to modernize their country?
More on Sarko later today.
Meanwhile, Scrappleface outdoes himself, Hillary Sees No Parallels in French Presidential Results
Official figures released on Monday said demonstrators set fire to 730 cars and injured 78 policemen across France, with 592 people arrested in the violent protests against the tough-talking former interior minister.
However, an internal police memo obtained by Reuters said there was no large-scale trouble there.
“The second round of the presidential election did not generate any large demonstrations of urban violence in sensitive neighborhoods,” said the memo.
It added that the level of violence was above that usually seen on July 14 Bastille Day, France’s national holiday, “but below that of New Year’s celebrations.”
Police say on an average just over 100 cars are set ablaze in France each night.