Saturday, January 20, 2007

Winds of Change

This week's Newsweek has a long article on the upcoming elections, beginning with the "coronation" of Nicolas Sarkozy this past weekend. The article then moves onto the sad state of affairs France was in after the Suez crisis and during the Algrerian war, and how Charles de Gaulle achieved a remarkable economic growth rate to turn things around.

Coming back to today's candidates, it dutifully acknowledges that each candidate appears to stand for change, and yet even they know that the French really don't want any difficult reform.

Sarkozy likes to think of himself as a reformer, and to his credit he does speak of amending French laws that inhibit labor mobility and stifle hiring and entrepreneurship. Yet he knows not to stray too far into specifics, or controversy. In this, he is much closer to his rival than he would care to admit. Ségo offers herself as the first woman ever to head France—almost as if that were enough.
But neither they nor other Europeans have any real inkling of what they stand for, or who they are. Far from being a referendum on change, there's growing concern that the next occupant of the Elysée may be a change in name only.

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