Yesterday night Nicolas Sarkozy spoke to an audience of 30,000 people, telling them that he was the candidate against the paralyzing left-wing strikes of May 1968.
"In this election, it is a question of whether the heritage of May '68 should be perpetuated or if it should be liquidated once and for all...They have questioned my integrity, my honour, my sincerity, my character. They explained I was dangerous for freedom. They suspect me of wanting to install a police state. They accuse me of pressuring [the media]. I have not joined them in the mud where they wanted to drag me."
It was perhaps his strongest attack yet, blaming what he named the "gauche caviars" for formenting a crisis of "morality, authoity, work, and national identity." In some ways his words sound like they could have come from any American right-wing candidate fighting the "culture wars" against the "hedonistic" left, but the difference is that Sarkozy is talking about economic and public values, not abortion and gay marriage. He is essentially creating the same Vietnam era split that separated John Kerry from George Bush, the former believing that the war was wrong and progress was made during the 60s, and the latter believing the war was just and that the 60s were nothing but the manifestation of immorality. Ok, I'm generalizing.
Such strong attacks could not be ignored, and today Segolene Royal defended the progress that came from 1968, although she admitted that the means were sometimes excessive.
"When I hear Nicolas Sarkozy say that it is necessary to 'liquidate' May 68, I think that it is a very violent vocabulary...By revalorizing the wages, France was freed and growth began again. Of course, there were some excesses as during all tormented periods...all excesses were also the formidable ones advanced compared to the conquests of freedom, autonomy, equality of men and women, trade-union right."
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