The Corner

Sarkozy (Been There, Done That)

Mario, like you, I was pleased by Sarkozy’s win in the first round of the French election, but as to the idea that he is going to be a staunch free marketeer, friend of America, and so on, I don’t really buy it, not least because we’ve heard this all before: in the run-up to Chirac’s presidency. Look closely enough at what Sarkozy has been saying and you can find plenty that is (a) both sceptical of globalization and (b) cautious about transatlantic partnership. Electioneeering? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it. My best guess is that, if he wins, Sarkozy will prove to be a French president in the usual Gaullist mode, fiercely assertive of the national interest (nothing wrong with that, that’s what any president of any country should aim to be), but with a less reflexively anti-American definition of what that national interest amounts to.

As to the economy, there ought to be no doubt that he is a statist on traditionally French lines. Helen over at EU Referendum puts it best when she writes:

Neither [Sarkozy nor Royal] is a liberal free-marketeer and both believe in the benign influence of the state. But, it would appear, that Sarkozy wants to use the state to push France into some sort of reform while Royal wants to use the state to promote more distributionist socialist policies. In practical terms neither will be able to achieve what they purport to want but when the voters go to the booths on May 6 these will be the choices they face.

That’s about right, I think.

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