Sunday, December 17, 2006

Royal graces Newsweek

French presidential candidate Segolene Royal will be featured on the cover of the European edition of Newsweek's "Who's next in 2007". Most of the article is nothing new, but it does a good job of summarizing her shoot to fame and the challenges that she will face later in the campaign.
Dec. 25, 2006 - Jan. 1, 2007 issue - The French have been watching sego-lène Royal's irresistible political rise with a combination of rapture and disbelief, if not downright wonder. Now it's the world's turn. Who is this woman who never held a senior cabinet post but rode a tide of "Ségomania" to overwhelm her opponents and seize the Socialist Party's nomination for president of the republic? How could a once rather drab junior minister suddenly emerge, in her early 50s, as a radiant public performer? Her supporters have embraced her as the incarnate image of change, a break with the past. But what sort of transformation can she bring to a nation where it often seems les jours de gloire are gone forever?

For now, answers are elusive. But beginning soon, France's April 22 presidential election will become topic A for Europe—and much of the rest of the globe. Can she or her strongest opponent, right-wing Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, wrench the French out of their decades-long torpor and help turn the continent into the powerhouse it aspires to be? Is it "Ségo" or "Sarko" who can bring real growth without destroying the country's cherished social programs? Who can best deal with France's (and Europe's) daunting immigration issues?
So far, Royal hasn't let herself be drawn into this debate. Within months, however, she will have to. Will she be able to stand up to the rigor of Sarkozy's campaign-trail cross-examination? Will the compromises and trade-offs that go along with choosing this or that policy over others bring her polls down? (She's currently running even with Sarkozy in opinion surveys, 50 percent each.) After all, she cannot expect to go on being all things to all people. That transition will mark her true political test—and all Europe will be watching. Read more...

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