Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sarkozy jumps toward center


Today in an hour and a half long speech in Strasbourg, UMP candidate Nicolas Sarkozy distanced himself from his free-market reputation by declaring that government has a crucial role to play in the economy and in trade.

"If I am elected president, I will propose to our partners to assign as missions to the euro zone the moralization of financial capitalism and the promotion of an economy of production against an economy of speculation and rent.

I don't accept that capitalism works in favor of some funds who buy up companies and start by firing 25 percent of the staff. (...)

I believe in the advantages of free trade, but a managed, regulated free trade, where the state intervenes to compensate for social, monetary and ecological dumping... (Europe needs to) protect itself against the abuse of its competitors and Asian dumping.

When others protect themselves, Europe disarms. Yes, 'protect' is part of my vocabulary. You can protect your national interest and detest protectionism.

These center-leaning declarations can only be attributed to the fear that the centrist candidate Francois Bayrou could beat Sarkozy if he unexpectedly faced him in the second round. It is also an attempt to suck enough votes away from Bayrou so that he never even makes it past the first round, which could occur if Royal stumbles badly.

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