Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Nicolas Machiavellian

It's been a while since I posted on Nicolas Sarkozy, and a couple of weeks since the intercession of his wife Cécilia seemingly occasioned the release of the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor in Libya (something I posted on last December), though at the time German sources claimed that negotiations by EU delegates were already well underway and that Sarkozy's instrumentation of his practically-estranged wife was nothing other than a publicity stunt. Following the bluster with which Sarkozy's debut showing at June's EU summit in Brussels was reported in the French media and his stuffing of his cabinet with a number of centre-left fall guys - the most prominent of which is new foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner - it appears that Sarkozy's greatest borrowing from Anglo-Saxon political economy would be the fine art of spin. Many of the more naïve French supporters of Sarkozy claimed before the election that the wee man would make France an international force to be reckoned with once again. He is certainly managing to put that idea about.

Except, of course, that now it has been established that Sarkozy's intervention was a pretext for arranging the sale of a nuclear reactor and other deals with the Libyans. After initially strenuous denials, Sarko's government has stopped trying to counter the accusations first floated in Le Canard enchaîné, a publication that rarely gets such things wrong. The Germans are fast losing patience with the French, after an early rapprochement with the Elysée Palace, and my election-day assessment of Sarkozy and his lack of substantial difference from the fetid political culture of Gaullism is proving to be prescient, even if I say so myself.

Sarkozy, while holidaying in New England, had a confrontation today with a couple of American photographers, grabbing the camera off one of them; his critics here in France are rubbing their hands with glee at this latest dispatch, but I have a certain degree of sympathy for him in this instance. Meanwhile, French rapper Doc Gynéco, a high-profile supporter of Sarkozy, was bottled offstage this weekend at a music festival in Switzerland of all places by a dozen or so bolshy leftists. Interestingly, Sarkozy affirmed upon the release of the Bulgarian nurses that they 'were French', which is a more gracious conferral of honorary citizenship than that offered to tens of thousands of non-nationals that actually reside in France. Though I despise Sarkozy, I readily admit he is a formidable politician. What I can't understand is how he has managed his first couple of months in such a shambolic fashion. The Socialist Party might not even have to reorganise at all if Sarkozy's faux pas continue.


redking said...

I don't know if I'd describe his first couple of months as shambolic -
at least in terms of politics rather than policy. It was remarkable how easy it was for him to wrong foot the Socialists, and how many of their supporters were happy to include themselves in his 60+% approval rating.

Perhaps having lived in NZ, where MPs are stunningly inept in the black arts of politics (e.g. shouting scandalous rumours across the chamber in front of cameras, instead of leaking), I have a grudging respect for clever political operators like him. Though he might have misstepped on international affairs, I can't see him having any domestic problems until the socialsts get their house in order. Or until the first strike ...

seanachie said...

I know what you mean; it was careless phrasing on my part more than anything else. I meant rather the cock-up over the Libyan arms deal and antagonising the Germans so early in the Presidency just to score points at home. As I said, Sarko is a smart mover but I think he will come unstuck soon enough as he is not quite dastardly enough to maintain the standards he has set himself. The strikes will be the least of his worries; Fillon will take the tumble for those when they happen.