Monday, May 07, 2012

France After Sarkozy: What Can Hollande Do?

Nicholas Sarkozy came to power five years ago heralded as France's New Man who would yoke France to global capitalism by separating it from its social model.  He jogged and he paddled New Hampshire canoes without his shirt.   I thought then that it would turn out badly, and it has.  The new Socialist president Fran├žois Hollande faces a mess when he steps out of his democratically little car.

Sarkozy was a classic wedge politician, campaigning against France's supposedly grasping unruly immigrants and its allegedly violent racial minorities in 2007 as he had while minister of the interior under Chirac. Sarkozy brought one of America's most repulsive and ineffective ideas into French politics, which is that solidarity damages the economy and retards society's wealth creators, who should rule by natural right.  The practical effects in France have been a minor-key echo of their destructive impact in the U.S.. Sarkozy presided over the piecemeal degradation of two of the cornerstones of French society, its strict, high-quality public schools and its affordable, high-quality health care system.